Hispanic ethnicity, language, and depression: physician-patient communication and patient use of alternative treatments.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between Hispanic ethnicity and language spoken with physician communication about depression and patient use of alternative treatments for depression. METHOD: This is a secondary data analysis from a trial of depression screening conducted in four primary care clinics. Patients with Hispanic or non-Hispanic White ethnic backgrounds and those meeting DSM-III-R criteria for current major depression, minor depression, dysthymia as well as those that screened positive on a depression screening instrument (n = 141) are included in this analysis. We labeled those who screened positive for depression but did not meet DSM-IIIR criteria for a current depressive disorder as "distressed." Clinicians' use of counseling and patient use of alternative treatments were based on patient self-report. RESULTS: Forty-two percent (n = 59) of the sample stated that their physician had either told them that they had depression, treated them for depression, or recommended that they seek help for depression. Over 40% of patients spent time talking with their physicians at their current visit about what was making them depressed and 34% received counseling about depression. Hispanic ethnicity and language were not significantly related to physician communication with patients about how to overcome depression. Thirty-six percent of patients reported talking with a minister or other religious person about feelings of depression or sadness. Seventeen percent of patients had used herbal remedies or non-prescription medications and 5% had seen a curandero for feelings of depression or sadness. Hispanic ethnicity and language were not significantly related to patient use of alternative treatments for depression. CONCLUSIONS: Hispanic ethnicity and language were not significantly related to physician-patient communication about depression or patient use of alternative treatments for depression. Physicians should make sure to ask patients about all of the types of things they are doing to help overcome their depression.
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