Project Title/Research Interests: Mental Illness Careers of Racial/Ethnic Minorities in the United States: The Case of Perceived Need for Mental Health Care

Ninez Ponce, PhD, MPP

Treatment and management of co-occurring mental and chronic physical illnesses present challenges to Latino patients and their physicians. Health care expenditures for individuals with comorbid mental and physical illnesses are four times greater than individuals with no comorbidities. The proposed study will examine the pathways that lead to successful management of comorbid mental health and chronic physical illnesses among Latino adults. Special focus will be placed on sociocultural factors, like acculturative stress, that influence Latinos to perceive a need for mental health care when other physical illnesses co-exist. Few datasets include a sufficient sample of Latinos as well as information on culture, mental and physical health, and health care utilization. Candidate datasets being considered include the National Latino and Asian American Study and Medical Expenditures Panel Survey.