Mental disorders among Maori attending their general practitioner.
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OBJECTIVE: This paper identifies rates of common mental disorders among Maori and non-Maori consulting a general practitioner (GP), and explores the association between ethnicity and social and material deprivation. METHOD: Survey of GPs and their patients. Participants were randomly selected GPs (n = 70), and their patients (n = 3414, of whom a subset of 786 form the basis of this paper). The main comparison is between self-identified ethnicity, mental disorder assessed by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, and social and material deprivation measured by NZDep2001 (an area based measure), and an individualized index of deprivation. RESULTS: Rates of mental disorder among Maori general practice attenders were higher than among non-Maori. Overall, Maori women attenders were twice as likely as non-Maori women attenders to have a diagnosable mental disorder. The rates of anxiety, depressive and substance use disorders were all higher for Maori than for others attending GPs. Treatment for psychological problems was offered by the GP at similar rates to both Maori and non-Maori. Although there were differences between Maori and non-Maori in terms of social and material deprivation, higher rates of mental disorder among Maori attending GPs compared to non-Maori cannot be accounted for by these differences alone. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support the view that whilst social and material deprivation may play a role in the high rates of mental disorders among Maori general practice attenders, there are additional ethnicity-specific factors involved. Interventions to address Maori mental health (whether by reducing risk factors for mental disorder, by promoting disclosure, early recognition and intervention, or by ensuring access to acceptable and effective treatments) may need to explicitly take those factors into account.
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