Pharmacotherapy for Depression and Medical Service Use

A Comparison Between Latinos and Non-Hispanic Whites
Johanna Shapiro, PhD

Because ofobserved ethnic differences in utilization of urgent versus regular medical care facilities among depressed patients at a federally qualified community health clinic, we examined whether pharmacotherapy for depression would predict different patterns of utilization, as a function of ethnicity. From a retrospective examination of medical records for 82 Latino and 63 Non-Hispanic White depressed patients, we compared utilization rates for regular medical and urgent care treatment for medicated and non-medicated patients. Results indicated that pharmacotherapy was associated with fewer urgent care visits by Latino patients and a greater number of visits for regular care (i.e., non-urgent care). In contrast, among Non-Hispanic Whites, there was no difference in visits for emergency treatment as a function of pharmacotherapy, but medication was associated with fewer regular medical visits. Pharmacotherapy was also associated with similar levels of regular clinic utilization between Latino and Non-Hispanic White patients. It appears that pharmacotherapy may be advantageous in effecting utilization patterns that result in better and less costly treatment for indigent Latino patients in a community clinic setting. Results also suggest that medication may ameliorate depressive symptoms for both groups and lead to a similar frequency of regular medical care seeking from Latino and Non-Hispanic White patients.

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