Disparities in Mental and Behavioral Health Treatment for Children and Youth in Immigrant Families.

Year of Publication


Date Published

2020 Jun 26

ISSN Number



<p><strong>BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: </strong>Children and youth in immigrant families (CIF)-children and youth with at least one foreign-born parent-face unique psychosocial stressors. Yet little is known about access to mental/behavioral health (MBH) services for CIF. Among US CIF and non-CIF with MBH problems, we assessed access to MBH treatment.</p>

<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>We used the National Survey of Children's Health-2016, a nationally-representative survey of predominantly English- or Spanish-speaking US parents. The sample included 2-17 year-olds whose parent reported at least one MBH problem. The primary outcome was prior-year receipt of MBH treatment (counseling, medication, or both).</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>Of 50,212 survey respondents, 7,164 reported a current MBH problem (809 CIF and 6,355 non-CIF). The majority of CIF were Hispanic/Latinx (56% CIF vs 13% non-CIF, p&lt;0.001). CIF were less likely than non-CIF to have an ADHD diagnosis (35% vs 59%, p&lt;0.001) and less likely to have received MBH medication and/or counseling (61% vs 71%, p = 0.02). This difference was pronounced for receiving medication (32% vs 50%, p&lt;0.001). When controlling for multiple covariates, differences in any MBH treatment were no longer statistically significant (AOR 0.76, 95% CI 0.52- 1.11), while the odds of receipt of medication remained significantly lower for CIF (AOR 0.61, 95% CI 0.42 - 0.88).</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>Among children and youth with at least one parent-reported MBH problem, CIF, compared with non-CIF, were less likely to receive MBH treatment, specifically medication. This may be explained, in part, by differences in the proportion of CIF and non-CIF diagnosed with ADHD.</p>



Alternate Title

Acad Pediatr




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