Patterns of Utilization and Outcomes of Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment in Asian Americans

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Most of the knowledge of racial/ethnic disparities in mental health treatment utilization comes from studies examining outpatient services, and less is known about these disparities in inpatient services. This empirical gap may limit our understanding of these disparities because inpatient treatment is the most intensive form of specialty mental health care for patients with psychological disorders. We conducted a systematic chart review of 129 Asian American and 198 White American psychiatric inpatients to examine patterns of inpatient psychiatric treatment utilization. Demographic and clinical data were extracted from admission and discharge records during a 2-year timeframe. Patterns of diagnoses revealed that Asian American patients utilized inpatient services for more severe psychiatric diagnoses compared with White American patients. Despite this, there were no racial/ethnic differences in levels of functional impairment at admission, and there were no racial/ethnic differences in length of treatment stay. For Asian American patients, level of psychosocial functioning at admission predicted length of stay. A better understanding of patterns of inpatient treatment use is needed to meet the clinical needs of Asian Americans with psychiatric disorders.

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