Addressing Stigma of Depression in Latino Primary Care Patients

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.