Background: Ethnic minorities with depression are more likely to seek mental health care through primary care
providers (PCPs) than mental health specialists. However, both provider and patient-specific challenges exist. PCP-
specific challenges include unfamiliarity with depressive symptom profiles in diverse patient populations, limited time to address mental health, and limited referral options for mental health care. Patient-specific challenges include stigma around mental health issues and reluctance to seek mental health treatment. To address these issues, we implemented a multi-component intervention for Asian American and Latino American primary care
patients with depression at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
Methods/Design: We propose a randomized controlled trial to evaluate a culturally appropriate intervention to
improve the diagnosis and treatment of depression in our target population. Our goals are to facilitate a) primary
care providers’ability to provide appropriate, culturally informed care of depression, and b) patients’knowledge of
and resources for receiving treatment for depression. Our two-year long intervention targets Asian American and Latino American adult (18 years of age or older) primary care patients at MGH screening positive for symptoms of
depression. All eligible patients in the intervention arm of the study who screen positive will be offered a culturally
focused psychiatric (CFP) consultation. Patients will meet with a study clinician and receive toolkits that include psychoeducational booklets, worksheets and community resources. Within two weeks of the initial consultation, patients will attend a follow-up visit with the CFP clinicians. Primary outcomes will determine the feasibility and cost associated with implementation of the service, and evaluate patient and provider satisfaction with the CFP service. Exploratory aims will describe the study population at screening, recruitment, and enrollment and identify which variables influenced patient participation in the program.
Discussion: The study involves an innovative yet practical intervention that builds on existing resources and strives
to improve quality of care for depression for minorities. Additionally, it complements the current movement in
psychiatry to enhance the treatment of depression in primary care settings. If found beneficial, the intervention will serve as a model for care of Asian American and Latino American patients.