TORRANCE - (Nov. 4, 2008) In the first-ever study of its kind, a team led by researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) report in November's Psychiatric Services journal that Spanish-speaking Hispanics took longer to respond to medication for depression and were less likely to go into remission than English-speaking Hispanics.
Using data from the nation's largest real-world clinical study of depression, the researchers found the Spanish-speaking participants in the study were older and were more likely to be women than the English speakers. The Spanish speakers also had less education and lower income, more medical issues and were more likely than English speakers to be seen in primary care than psychiatric clinics.
"Once we adjusted for these differences in their socioeconomic status, both groups responded about the same to medication for depression," said Ira Lesser, M.D., a LA BioMed investigator who authored the report. "These results are important for clinicians and patients to be aware that Spanish-speaking Hispanics with depression who come from lower social economic groups may need more than medication for depression."
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the study surveyed the treatment records of 195 Spanish-speaking and English-speaking Hispanics who had sought care at the Los Angeles and San Diego sites from among the more than 4,000 patients who participated in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, the nation's largest real-world study of depression.
"Hispanics are the nation's largest ethnic minority and its fastest-growing population group," said Dr. Lesser. "As clinicians ourselves, we always are seeking information on the best treatments for our patients, taking into account the differences among them."
Hispanics comprise about 15% of the U.S. population, and 40% are born outside the country. In the 2000 Census, 32% of Hispanic respondents who said they spoke Spanish at home also said they spoke English "not well" or "not at all." Depression is the nation's most prevalent psychiatric disorder, with approximately 16 out of 100 Americans suffering from it at some point in their lives.
About LA BioMed
Founded 56 years ago, LA BioMed is one of the country's largest not-for-profit independent biomedical research institutes. It conducts biomedical research, trains young scientists and provides community services, including childhood immunization, nutrition assistance and anti-gang violence programs. The institute's researchers conduct studies in such areas as cardiovascular disease, emerging infections, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, dermatology, reproductive health, vaccine development, respiratory disorders, inherited illnesses and neonatology.
LA BioMed is an independent institute that is academically affiliated with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The institute is located on the campus of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance. It contributes to Los Angeles County's economic viability while inventing the future of health care through its ground-breaking research, its training of the scientists of tomorrow and its service to the local community. Please visit our website at www.LABioMed.org