Targeting Care Disparity Through Cultural Awareness

Albert-Yeung,-ScD,-MDBy incorporating a culturally sensitive interview into the collaborative care model, a Mass General research team increased the percentage of their Chinese patients entering treatment for depression by nearly seven times the previous rate. Their efforts ensured that patients received information and mental health care, and the team is examining the possibility of expanding the endeavor. The study, which took place at a Boston community health center under the direction of Albert Yeung, ScD, MD, of the MGH Department of Psychiatry (pictured), addressed many of the roots of care disparity. They included language barriers, stigma or unfamiliarity regarding mental illness and psychiatric disorders and a trend of Chinese patients seeking treatment only for the physical symptoms of disease. According to Dr. Yeung, “Our model appears to be very promising, but it needs to be tested at other centers … Similar models could be designed and tested to help other minority populations who have cultural barriers that prevent them from receiving mental health services.”