Adherence to Depression Treatment Among Latino Primary Care Patients

A special issue of Psychological Services on mental health disparities among ethnic minorities features a journal article titled Uptake of Depression Treatment Recommendations Among Latino Primary Care Patients (PDF - 1310 KB), which examines factors related to the Latino patients’ adherence to their primary care providers’ (PCPs’) recommendations for depression treatment.

About “22% of Latino primary care patients meet criteria for major depressive disorder” and PCPs, the most frequent providers of anti-depressant medication, are often called upon to treat them. But due to logistical difficulties, poverty, lack of access or insurance, attitudinal factors, preference for informal supports, stigma, and scarcity of specialty mental health providers, Latino patients often do not follow their PCP’s depression regimens and thus, contribute to the ethnic disparities in depression treatment. However, the study reveals that a positive PCP-patient working alliance (i.e., agreement on treatment goals, agreement on tasks, bonds of trust and liking) can promote “perceived treatment utility and treatment adherence” among Latinos. Additionally, when PCPs administer services “in a culturally appropriate way, ethnic minority patients are more likely to stay in treatment.”

Evidently, PCPs are “instrumental in connecting patients with the necessary care.” With strategies to strengthen the working alliance and increase cultural competence among PCPs, primary care settings can better address the mental health needs of and improve health outcomes for Latino patients.