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Mental Health Service Patterns among Medicaid-Eligible Children: Disparities and Differences in Beliefs and Service Access


Healthy People 2010 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [US DHHS], 2000) documented various health disparities in access to mental health services, quality of mental health care, and mental health service utilization for children in different racial/ethnic groups. The initiative defined health care disparities as differences among US populations according to gender, race or ethnicity, education, income, disability, geographic location, and sexual orientation.

Several studies have shown that there are different patterns of mental health service utilization for youth with different race/ethnicity (i.e. African American, Hispanic, white), as well as differences in clinical diagnosis. Although racial and ethnic disparities in mental health service utilization have been well documented, only a few studies have examined possible reasons for service underutilization. As a result, there is a need for enhanced knowledge about causes, correlates, and determinants of these disparities so that new policies can be developed to reduce them. Therefore, this study was intended to:

(a) Determine how race/ethnicity factors affect patterns of mental
health prevalence and service utilization among Medicaid-eligible
children in Florida
(b) Identify race/ethnicity factors associated with parents’ beliefs and
perceptions of mental health related issues and services
(c) Link disparities in mental health status and service utilization with
group differences in parental beliefs about mental health and
service access.

The study design had two parts. The first part included multigroup
comparisons based on longitudinal and cross-sectional analyses using mental health service indicators from the administrative data sets. The second component was a multigroup comparison of responses to the mail survey. Here, differences were examined in beliefs about mental health issues and service effectiveness as expressed by parents of Medicaid-eligible children from white, Hispanic, and African American families.


Greenbaum, P. E., Yampolskaya, S., Hernandez, M., Briscoe, R., & Mowery, D. (2008). Mental health service patterns among medicaid- eligible children: disparities and differences in beliefs and service access (Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) series No. 220-117). Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute.

Faculty & Staff