Asian Americans and mental health services: A study of utilization patterns in the 1990s

Sheying Chen, Ning Yang Sullivan, Yuhwa Eva Lu, Tazuko Shibusawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research in the 1970s and 1980s revealed that Asian Americans, compared with other ethnic groups, tended to under-utilize mental health services. This article is aimed at adding new information to the literature by examining data from the 1990s. The raw data comprised 97, 212 total admissions representing 45, 774 total individuals utilizing mental health services during a four-year period in San Diego County, California. By comparing our findings with previous research cases on utilization patterns of mental health services, new evidence is found about Asian Americans in terms of their (1) underrepresentation in mental health services, (2) presentation of more severe symptoms than those of other racial/ethnic groups when first seen at clinics, (3) lower dropout rates and higher average lengths of stay than other racial/ethnic groups, and (4) higher percentages of using day treatment and outpatient programs but lower percentage of using inpatient programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-42
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 21 2003


  • Asian American patients
  • Ethnic differences
  • Mental health services
  • San Diego County
  • Utilization patterns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education

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