Psychiatric disorders and mental health treatment in American Indians and Alaska Natives: results of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.


PURPOSE: To examine the prevalence of common psychiatric disorders and associated treatment-seeking, stratified by gender, among American Indians/Alaska Natives and non-Hispanic whites in the United States. Lifetime and 12-month rates are estimated, both unadjusted and adjusted for sociodemographic correlates. METHOD: Analyses were conducted with the American Indians/Alaska Native (n = 701) and Non-Hispanic white (n = 24,507) samples in the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions [(NESARC) n = 43,093]. RESULTS: Overall, 70 % of the American Indian/Alaska Native men and 63 % of the women met criteria for at least one Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV lifetime disorder, compared to 62 and 53 % of Non-Hispanic white men and women, respectively. Adjusting for sociodemographic correlates attenuated the differences found. Nearly half of American Indians/Alaska Natives had a psychiatric disorder in the previous year; again, sociodemographic adjustments explained some of the differences found. Overall, the comparisons to non-Hispanic whites showed differences were more common among American Indian/Alaska Native women than men. Among those with a disorder, American Indian/Alaska Native women had greater odds of treatment-seeking for 12-month anxiety disorders. CONCLUSION: As the first study to provide national estimates, by gender, of the prevalence and treatment of a broad range of psychiatric disorders among American Indians/Alaska Natives, a pattern of higher prevalence of psychiatric disorder was found relative to Non-Hispanic whites. Such differences were more common among women than men. Prevalence may be overestimated due to cultural limitations in measurement. Unmeasured risk factors, some specific to American Indians/Alaska Natives, may also partially explain these results.