February 1, 2013
We compared service outcomes of dedicated language and cultural competency services in adequacy of care, ER, and inpatient care among Portuguese-speaking patients in ethnic- and non-ethnic-specific behavioral health clinics. We assessed adequacy of mental health care, and use of inpatient emergency department among Portuguese-speaking patients, comparing individuals receiving care from a culturally and linguistically competent mental health care setting (the Portuguese Mental Health Program [PMHP]) with usual mental health care in a community health care system in the USA. Propensity score matching was used to balance patients in treatment and control groups on gender, marital status, age, diagnosis of mental disorder, and insurance status. We used de-identified, longitudinal, administrative data of 854 Portuguese-speaking patients receiving care from the PMHP and 541 Portuguese-speaking patients receiving usual care from 2005-2008. Adequate treatment was defined as receipt of at least eight outpatient psychotherapy visits, or at least four outpatient visits of which one was a psychopharmacological visit. PMHP patients were more likely to receive adequate care. No differences were found in rates of ER use or inpatient mental health care. The present study suggests increased quality of care for patients that have contact with a clinic that dedicates resources specifically to a minority/immigrant group. Advantages of this setting include greater linguistic and cultural concordance among providers and patients. Further research is warranted to better understand the mechanisms by which culturally appropriate mental health care settings benefit minority/immigrant patients.