According to a research “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Depression Care in Community-Dwelling Elderly in the United States,” by lead author Ayse Akincigil, an assistant professor in Rutgers’ School of Social Work, and colleagues established that African Americans were considerably less likely to get a depression diagnosis from a health care provider than were non-Hispanic whites. The research was published online by the American Journal of Public Health (print, February 2012).
Depression is a considerable public health problem for older Americans – about 6.6 percent of elderly Americans faces an episode of major depression each year. Depression may aggravate medical conditions commonly found in older populations as congestive heart failure, diabetes and arthritis.
The study focused on whether there are racial/ethnic disparities in the rate of diagnosis of depression among the elderly. Akincigil held that there is substantial evidence to prove that help-seeking patterns differ by race/ethnicity, causing the gap in depression diagnosis rates. Stigma, patient attitude and knowledge also may differ by race and ethnicity. The researchers also observed that racial and ethnic variation in the clinical presentation of depression may be the explanation for finding lower rates of depression among African-American patients.
The researchers came to the conclusion that efforts may be required to lessen the load of unnoticed and untreated depression and to recognize the blockade that lead to disparities in detection and treatment.
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