This study examined racial/ethnic disparities in mental health service access and use at different poverty levels.
We compared demographic and clinical characteristics and service use patterns of Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians living in low-poverty and high-poverty areas. Logistic regression models were used to assess service use patterns of minority racial/ethnic groups compared with Whites in different poverty areas.
Residence in a poverty neighborhood moderates the relationship between race/ethnicity and mental health service access and use. Disparities in using emergency and inpatient services and having coercive referrals were more evident in low-poverty than in high-poverty areas.
Neighborhood poverty is a key to understanding racial/ethnic disparities in the use of mental health services.