JOURNAL ARTICLE

Ethnicity and the prescribing of antidepressant pharmacotherapy: 1992-1995

D A Sclar, L M Robison, T L Skaer, R S Galin
Harvard Review of Psychiatry 1999, 7 (1): 29-36
10439303
Little is known about the prescribing pattern for antidepressant pharmacotherapy by ethnicity. The present study was designed to determine the rates of office-based visits documenting the utilization of antidepressant pharmacotherapy, a diagnosis of a depressive disorder, or both, among whites, blacks, and Hispanics age 20-79 years. Data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for 1992-93 and 1994-95 were utilized for this analysis. Comparing these time periods, we observed several trends: (1) The annualized mean rate per 100 US population of office-based visits documenting the use of antidepressant pharmacotherapy for any reason increased from 13.4 to 15.9 among whites (p < or = 0.0001) and from 6.5 to 7.7 among blacks (p < or = 0.0001), but remained unchanged at 7.3 for Hispanics (p > 0.05). (2) Documentation of a diagnosis of a depressive disorder increased for whites (10.9 to 12.0; p < or = 0.0001), for blacks (4.2 to 5.6; p < or = 0.0001), and for Hispanics (4.8 to 5.6; p < or = 0.0001). (3) The recording of a diagnosis of a depressive disorder in concert with the initial prescription or continuation of antidepressant pharmacotherapy also increased for whites (6.5 to 7.7; p < or = 0.0001), for blacks (2.6 to 3.4; p < or = 0.0001), and for Hispanics (3.0 to 3.2; p < or = 0.0001). We conclude that the rate of office-based visits documenting the utilization of antidepressant pharmacotherapy, a diagnosis of a depressive disorder, or both, was comparable among blacks and Hispanics by 1994-95, but was less than half the rate for whites in either time period examined. Further prospective research is required to discern the reasons for observed differences by ethnicity.

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