STUDY: Blacks Less Likely To Be Prescribed Antidepressants Than Whites

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Results from a recent study published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine concluded that Blacks and Hispanics who are severely depressed are less likely to be prescribed antidepressants than their white counterparts, while depressed patients on Medicaid and Medicare tend to be prescribed drugs that are older, reports CBS News.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan who examined data from 1993 to 2007, sifted through the antidepressant medication prescribing habits of physicians. The researchers focused on two things: those who received the mood-altering drugs and what types were prescribed.

According to a University of Michigan news release, they also determined that “… race, payment source, physician ownership status and geographical region influenced whether physicians decided to prescribe antidepressants in the first place. Age and payment source influenced which types of antidepressants patients received.”

Caucasians were 1.52 times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than Hispanic and blacks patients who were being treated for major depressive disorders. The study also revealed that Medicare and Medicaid patients were 31 percent and 38 percent less likely to be prescribed antidepressants than privately insured patients.  Although race was not a factor in the type of antidepressants prescribed to patients, insurance, however, was. Medicare and Medicaid patients were 58 percent and 61 percent less likely to receive the latest class of antidepressants than those patients with private insurance.

Newer types of antidepressant medications are now being offered as first-line treatments for major bouts of depression. The older drugs tend to cause more dangerous side effects.

“This study confirmed previous findings that sociological factors, such as race and ethnicity, and patient health insurance status, influence physician prescribing behaviors,” principal investigator Rajesh Balkrishnan, an associate professor in the school of public health, said in a university news release.

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