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Estimating the Effects of Immigration Status on Mental Health Care Utilizations in the United States


Immigration status is a likely deterrent of mental health care utilization in the United States. Using the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and National Health Interview survey from 2002 to 2006, multivariable logistic regressions were used to estimate the effects of immigration status on mental health care utilization among patients with depression or anxiety disorders. Multivariate regressions showed that immigrants were significantly less likely to take any prescription drugs, but not significantly less likely to have any physician visits compared to US-born citizens. Results also showed that improving immigrants' health care access and health insurance coverage could potentially reduce disparities between US-born citizens and immigrants by 14-29% and 9-28% respectively. Policy makers should focus on expanding the availability of regular sources of health care and immigrant health coverage to reduce disparities on mental health care utilization. Targeted interventions should also focus on addressing immigrants' language barriers, and providing culturally appropriate services.

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