Q & A from Author of Emergency Department Visits Related to Mental Health Disorders Among Adults, by Race and Hispanic EthnicityPosted on by
Q: Why did you decide to report on rates of emergency department (ED) visits for mental health disorders by race and ethnicity?
ZP: As mentioned in the introduction of this report, prior research has shown that certain race/ethnicity groups are less likely to receive routine mental health care. Additionally, mental health disorders are frequently diagnosed at ED visits, based on previous NCHS publications. This report sought to assess whether ED use for mental health disorders differed by race and Hispanic ethnicity, given the disproportionate use of routine mental health care by race and ethnicity.
Q: Can you describe some of the findings?
ZP: This report shows that the use of EDs for mental health disorders differs by race and Hispanic ethnicity. Non-Hispanic Black adults use EDs for mental health disorders at higher rates than other race and ethnicity groups, and Hispanic adults use EDs for mental health disorders at lower rates than other race and ethnicity groups.
Q: Do you have any data that goes further back than 2018?
ZP: We have data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS, the survey used in this report) that goes further back than 2018. For this report, we wanted to use the most current data possible while still having enough data to make comparisons of interest. However, we provide counts, and rates of mental health-related ED visits by race and Hispanic ethnicity from 2016-2020 in a data visualization found here. This visualization will be updated as new years of NHAMCS data become available.
Q: Do you plan to update this report in the future?
ZP: It is possible that we could update this report. However, as stated in the previous question, we will continue to update our NHAMCS-based data visualization, which includes rates of mental health-related visits by race and Hispanic ethnicity.
Q: What is the take-home message in this report?
ZP: In 2018–2020, non-Hispanic Black adults had higher rates of ED visits for all categories of mental health disorders assessed compared with non-Hispanic White and Hispanic adults, including substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and schizophrenia.
Q: Any other comments?
ZP: This report highlights differences in emergency department use by race and Hispanic ethnicity, specifically for care related to mental health disorders. These findings can help to inform future research and work related to mental health care. However, this report also serves as an example of health equity-related analyses that can be conducted with NHAMCS data. NHAMCS data are made publicly available on the NCHS website, and researchers can work with these data to further assess differences in mental health-related care or to assess care for other conditions by race and Hispanic ethnicity.