Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Degree Granting Department
School of Aging Studies
Victor Molinari, Ph.D.
Tamara Baker, Ph.D.
Kyaien Conner, Ph.D.
Debra Dobbs, Ph.D.
William Haley, Ph.D.
Dinorah Martinez Tyson, Ph.D.
bipolar disorder, health belief model, mental health, older adults, qualitative research, schizophrenia
In the United States, over three million adults, age 50 and older, reported a diagnosis of serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year. Most of them live in community-settings and are less likely than younger adults to utilize mental health treatment. Lack of and insufficient treatment for SMI places them at increased risk of morbidity, earlier mortality, cognitive decline, and diminished quality of life. The current study aimed to: (1) examine the factors that influence Black and White older adults, who live with SMI, to seek and engage in outpatient mental health treatment; (2) identify the perspectives of Black and White older adults, who live with SMI, on the issues of accessibility, affordability, appropriateness, and availability of outpatient mental health services; and (3) determine whether the perspectives of Blacks and Whites are different on the issues of accessibility, affordability, appropriateness, and availability of outpatient mental health services.
I developed a qualitative, interview-based study using the health belief model (HBM) as the theoretical framework. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 participants, between the ages of 50-70 years (mean age 58.9), who had a clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and schizophrenia. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, coded and analyzed using thematic analysis.
Data themes related to factors that influenced outpatient mental health treatment and services were identified and organized based on the six HBM constructs. Perceived barriers to mental health treatment engagement included lack of knowledge about available treatment and services in the community, poor mental health literacy, and stigma. Improved sense of well-being and increased socialization were perceived benefits of mental health treatment engagement. Risk of homelessness emerged from the data as the main influence for Black and White older adults, who live with SMI, to seek and engage in outpatient mental health treatment. For all participants, access to and availability of mental health services were not current issues. All except one participant had some type of medical coverage for their treatment and most of them felt that their current treatment was appropriate. There were no differences between Black and White older adults on the issues of accessibility, affordability, appropriateness, and availability of outpatient mental health services. In addition, Black participants did not feel a need for mental health services to be specifically tailored to Black older adults, and instead indicated they saw no differences in Blacks and Whites related to mental health services. These findings are contrary to existing research and may be indicative of the gravity of mental illness-related stigma, compared to racial stigma.
Better promotion of available mental health services in the community, mental health outreach, and community education about mental illness may be helpful for earlier identification of symptoms related to mental illness, earlier treatment and intervention, stigma reduction, and improved health and quality of life for community-residing older adults who live with SMI.
Scholar Commons Citation
Roker, Rosalyn, "Perspectives of older Blacks and Whites living with serious mental illness about outpatient mental health services" (2018). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.