Padres Efectivos (Parent Activation): Skills Latina Mothers use to get Healthcare for Their Children

Kathleen Thomas, PhD, Principal Investigator

Joseph P. Morrissey, PhD, Co-Investigator

Betsy Sleath, PhD, Co-Investigator

Sean Sayers-Montalvo, PhD, Co-Investigator

Latinos are the largest and fastest growing minority population in the US; by 2050, 2 in 5 children will be Latino. Latino children are disproportionately affected by poverty and other factors associated with increased risk of psychiatric disorder. However, Latino children with mental health needs are half as likely to use services as children in white non-Latino families. Latino families are more likely to report problems getting services, lack of a usual source of care and a medical home, and dissatisfaction with the care they receive. Unmet mental health needs, in turn, are associated with poor outcomes over the lifespan, both economic and social. Assessing the comparative effectiveness of interventions to overcome these disparities is a major national health priority central to PCORI’s mission and mandate.

Activation is a promising focus of research to eliminate disparities because it reflects a set of attitudes and skills that people can use to reduce disparities. Our work provides evidence that activation in Latino adults is associated with better quality health care and outcomes; and in African American parents with greater child mental health service use. There is need for further research on parent-focused interventions founded on culturally meaningful concepts to address these needs and disparities.

The long-term goal of this research is to improve the mental health care and outcomes of Latino children with mental health needs. The proposed study will examine the comparative effectiveness of an activation intervention for Latino families raising children.

The proposed study will provide evidence of the comparative effectiveness of an enhanced, culturally sensitive, advocacy skills intervention to build activation among Latino families and improve service use of their children with mental health needs compared to a preliminary adaptation of an existing intervention and to a usual care discussion group. Activation skills are a promising strategy to improve child mental health service use and to bridge cultural differences and disparities with wide-ranging impacts consistent with PCORI’s research agenda.