What is it about?

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed in primary care and it is important to understand the relationship between race and antidepressant prescriptions in integrated primary care systems. We found that Black Veterans were almost two times less likely to have an antidepressant prescription as compared to White Veterans, when controlling for depression symptoms, demographics, psychosocial variables, and other clinical symptoms. Among Veterans with none to mild symptoms of depression, White Veterans were more likely to have an antidepressant prescription as compared to Black Veterans, suggesting that White patients may be receiving potentially unnecessary care. Among patients with severe depression, Black Veterans were less likely to have an antidepressant prescription as compared to White Veterans, suggesting that Black Veterans are not yet receiving care in line with clinical guidelines. Racial disparities in the provision of mental health care persist and future research should seek to identify and address these disparities systematically.

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Why is it important?

Primary care is where antidepressants are most commonly prescribed. We've identified that racial disparities exist in a well integrated primary care system, the first step to addressing these disparities and improving treatment for minority Veterans

Perspectives

We hope this article encourages other providers to look at their own clinic data to identify disparities in their practices. We hope to use these data to drive change and improve the quality of treatment.

Jocelyn Remmert
Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Racial Disparities in Prescription of Antidepressants Among U.S. Veterans Referred to Behavioral Health Care, Psychiatric Services, April 2022, American Psychiatric Association, DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.202100237.
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