Addressing Stigma of Depression in Latino Primary Care Patients

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Within the Latino community, those suffering moderate to severe depression are reluctant to divulge their illnesses to loved ones.Latinos have concerns about the social consequences of depression; cultural differences between Latinos and their physicians may further complicate the process of diagnosing depression.

Based on published literature, the authors of this study derived a bilingual checklist to evaluate the social stigma associated with depression; Latino outpatients completed the checklist at two primary care clinics in Los Angeles; additional objectives of the study were: a) examining whether the stigma attached to depression affected patients' decisions to seek treatment; and, b) presenting strategies to manage the consequences of depression-related stigma.

Key Findings:

  • Among severely depressed patients, less than 60 percent of those who attached a stigma to depression had informed family members of their condition.
  • More than one-third of patients taking medication for depression believed people with depression to be untrustworthy.

This article presents a checklist that can gauge the social stigma that Latino patients associate with depression; primary care clinicians can use the checklist to tailor treatment to patients’ individual needs; the checklist is a potential screening instrument for depression.