Testing for Differences in the Reporting of Somatic Symptoms of Depression in Racial/Ethnic Minorities

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Testing for Differences in the Reporting of Somatic Symptoms of Depression in Racial/Ethnic Minorities

We tested if Latinx and Black individuals are more likely to somaticize depression compared with their White counterparts. We analyzed 14,745 depression ratings from 4,101 people living with HIV from 2007 to 2014. We calculated the percentage of each depression score accounted for by somatic symptom items (e.g., feeling tired). We analyzed depression scores using generalized estimation equations, which accounts for repeated measures within each person. Somatic symptoms accounted for 70% of depression scores for White patients, 66% for Latinx patients, and 68% for Black patients. Across the 14,745 assessments, adjusting for age and sex, and within-person correlation, the percentage of the depression scores made up of somatic items was lower for Latinx (b = −.03, p < .0001) and Black patients (b = −.02, p < .001), compared with White patients. The idea that Latinx and Black individuals are likely to somaticize depression may lead to underdiagnoses and perpetuate stereotypes and inequities that are not supported by empirical data.

Authors: John A. Sauceda, PhD, MSc, Anushka R. Patel, PhD, Edda I. Santiago-Rodriguez, DrPh, MPH, Dellanira Garcia, PhD, and Julia Lechuga, PhD

Key words: Black individuals, African Americans, depression, HIV, Latinx, somatization

Learning Objective

By the end of this JSS activity, the participant will be able to:

1. Identify at least two implications for practice for researchers and clinicians when analyzing somatization of depression in minority populations.  

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Live Viewing: 2.00 Advanced-level CECH, CPH credits and certificate available
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