Using participatory methods to enhance patient-centred mental health care in a federally qualified community health center serving a Mexican American farmworker community

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Mexican American farmworkers experience high rates of mental health conditions; however, it is difficult for them to access care. Patient-centred care is a systems-wide approach to improving the delivery of services for diverse populations in the primary care setting.


We describe the application of community-based participatory research methods to assess and address gaps in perceptions of mental health care between providers and migrant workers living in a US–Mexico Border community.


A federally qualified health centre (FQHC) serving a community of approximately 60 000 agricultural workers who live in Yuma County and harvest vegetables during the winter season.


We conducted patient focus groups (n = 64) and FQHC staff interviews (n = 16) to explore attributes and dimensions of patient-centred mental health care.


Patients and staff both prioritized increased access to mental health care and patient-centred care, while patients were more concerned with interpersonal care and providers with coordination of care. All participants stressed the relationship between life events and mental health and the centrality of family in care. Patients also emphasized the importance of a good attitude, the ability to solve problems, positive family relationships and reliance on faith. Patients suggested that the FQHC inform patients about mental health resources, provide community informational talks to address stigma, and offer support groups.


The participatory approach of this qualitative study resulted in a wealth of data regarding patient preferences that will enable the FQHC to develop protocols and training to provide patient-centred mental health-care services for their community.

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