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Book Review

Disparities in Psychiatric Care: Clinical and Cross-Cultural Perspectives

Jon Streltzer, MD

Published: February 15, 2011

Disparities in Psychiatric Care: Clinical and Cross-Cultural Perspectives

edited by Pedro Ruiz, MD, and Annelle Primm, MD, MPH. Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD, 2010, 363 pages, $79.95 (hardcover).

When Pedro Ruiz, MD, was president of the American Psychiatric Association (2006-2007), he chose to address the difficulties people with mental illness faced in securing appropriate treatment, including access, parity, quality, and humane care. Thus, the idea for this book was conceived. The result is Disparities in Psychiatric Care: Clinical and Cross-Cultural Perspectives, which he edited with Annelle Primm, MD. There are altogether 40 authors of 33 chapters. The chapters are not long; they are filled with data but are quite readable. This text captures not only the incredible diversity of the patient populations that we serve, but also the incredible diversity of issues and problems that they face.

This volume is divided into 6 sections. The first section is a brief overview of the history and scope of disparities. The second section reflects on disparities among ethnic groups, with chapters covering African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaskan natives.

The next 4 sections constitute the bulk of the book and include topics not readily found in books focusing on cultural issues and minority mental health. Section 3 covers disparities among gender and sexual minorities, including chapters not only on women and homosexuals, but also on bisexuals and transgendered persons. Section 4 covers disparities among age groups. Section 5 is devoted to special populations, including rural, addicted, and incarcerated populations—groups not usually thought of in this context. The last section goes beyond describing the fact of disparities and documents how these disparities are being addressed and recommends how they can be addressed. Issues such as culture, emergency care, quality of care, education, parity, and global perspectives are among the chapters included in the last section.

This book is well-organized and readable for one with so many contributors, a tribute to the editorial oversight. Some chapters overlap, but most are unique, full of information despite being short and concise. The book is recommended for those interested in epidemiology, cultural psychiatry, or health care policy. It is an excellent reference for anyone seeking to learn about any of the special populations or issues pertinent to mental health care.

Jon Streltzer, MD

Author affiliation: University of Hawaii School of Medicine, Honolulu. Potential conflicts of interest: None.

Volume: 72

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