Context: Recent evidence questions whether formerly documented disparities in care for common mental disorders among African Americans and Hispanics still remain. Also, whether disparities exist mainly in psychiatric settings or primary health care settings is unknown.
Objective: To comprehensively examine time trends in outpatient diagnosis and treatment of depression and anxiety among ethnic groups in primary care and psychiatric settings.
Design and Setting: Analyses of office-based outpatient visits from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Study from 1995–2005 (n = 96,075).
Participants: Visits to office-based primary care physicians and psychiatrists in the United States.
Main Outcome Measures: Diagnosed with depression or anxiety, received counseling or a referral for counseling, received an antidepressant prescription, and any counseling or antidepressant care.
Results: In these analyses of 10-year trends in treatment of common mental disorders, disparities in counseling/referrals for counseling, antidepressant medications, and any care vastly improved or were eliminated over time in psychiatric visits. Continued disparities in diagnoses, counseling/referrals for counseling, antidepressant medication, and any care are found in primary care visits.
Conclusions: Disparities in care for depression and anxiety among African Americans and Hispanics remain in primary care. Quality improvement efforts are needed to address cultural and linguistic barriers to care.