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The Impact of Race on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Depression

Helen Kales, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, U-M Medical School; Medical Director, Geriatric Depression Program, U-M Depression Center; and Director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Clinic, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

Why are there racial disparities in diagnosis and treatment of depression? This talk by Dr. Helen Kales gives a brief overview of these racial disparities and their potential causes in geriatric populations. Dr. Kales then describes studies that explore possible contributing factors, including 1) clinician bias (the racially based variance in diagnosis and treatment plan), 2) variance in symptom presentation, 3) variance in treatment preferences, and 4) obstacles to adherence. The findings of these works suggest that future interventions consider cultural and age-based variations when interpreting clinician-patient interactions and encouraging adherence to treatment plan.