The National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) provides national information on the similarities and differences in mental illness and service use of Latinos and Asian Americans.

The Latino and Asian American populations are expanding at a rate far outstripping the research capacity necessary to understand the nature of their risks for psychiatric disorders and respond to their service needs. Monitoring the mental health status of ethnic and racial minorities is essential for the development of strategies to mitigate ethnic/racial disparities in health and health care use. The lack of quality data for Latinos and Asian Americans makes it difficult to develop public policies and prevention and treatment programs appropriate for these populations.

The National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) provides national information on the similarities and differences in mental illness and service use of Latinos and Asian Americans. The NLAAS is one of the most comprehensive studies of Latinos and Asian Americans ever conducted using up-to-date scientific strategies in the design, sampling procedures, psychiatric assessments and analytic techniques. The final NLAAS sample consisted of 2,554 Latino respondents and 2,095 Asian American respondents. To allow for important subgroup analysis, respondents were further stratified into the following ethnic subgroup categories: Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexican, Other Latinos, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Other Asians. Data collection took place between May 2002 and November 2003. To be eligible to complete the NLAAS, respondents were required to be 18 years of age or older, living in the non-institutionalized population of the coterminous United States or Hawaii, of Latino, Hispanic, or Spanish descent, or of Asian descent. The NLAAS instrument was administered in the respondent’s choice of the following languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, or Tagalog by fully bilingual lay interviewers.

NLAAS data analyses will provide important baseline information about Latinos and Asians that will be critical when assessing whether there are diminished mental health disparities by the year 2010 (Healthy People 2010). NLAAS publications and papers in preparation address a wide range of different topics of importance for Latino mental health, including the prevalence of disorders across Latino and Asian subgroups, issues regarding language and measurement of disorder, socio-cultural influences on mental disorder and health and mental health service patterns for Latinos and Asian Americans.

The NLAAS dataset can be downloaded from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (CPES) website.

The CPES Combined Dataset combines the data from three epidemiological surveys: the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS), the National Survey of American Life (NSAL) and the National Comorbity Survey – Replication (NCS-R). The NCS-R dataset was released to the public via ICPSR in June of 2006.

AIMS:

  • Aim 1: To estimate the lifetime and 12-month prevalence of psychiatric disorders and the rates of mental health services use for Latino and Asian American populations, adjusting for age and gender effects. We will estimate ethnic differences in the prevalence of specific psychiatric disorders and utilization of mental health services in nationwide representative samples of Latinos and Asian Americans.
  • Aim 2: To estimate the relation of social position, environmental context, and psychosocial factors with the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and utilization rates of mental health services in nationwide representative samples of Latinos and Asian Americans
  • Aim 3: To compare the lifetime and 12-month prevalence of psychiatric disorders, and utilization of mental health services of Latinos and Asian Americans with national representative samples of non-Latino whites (from the NCS-R) and African Americans (from the NSAL). We will again estimate the role of social position and environmental context as factors that may explain the ethnic/race differences in disease and use. Both Latino and Asian groups will be compared to the non-Latino whites as the reference point and to African Americans.

Principal Investigators

  • Margarita Alegría, Ph.D., Director, Disparities Research Unit, Mongan Institute, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • David Takeuchi, Ph.D., Professor, Director of PhD Program, Department of Social Work, University of Washington

Latino Sample: Core Co-Investigators

  • Zhun Cao, Ph.D., Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School
  • Glorisa Canino, Ph.D., University of Puerto Rico
  • Pinka Chatterji, Ph.D., Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School
  • Chih-nan Chen, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School
  • Naihua Duan, Ph.D., Columbia University
  • Javier Escobar, M.D., Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • Lisa Fortuna, M.D., Disparities Research Unit, Mongan Institute, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Peter Guarnaccia, Ph.D., Rutgers University
  • Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, M.D., New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University
  • Thomas McGuire, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
  • Xiao-Li Meng, Ph.D., Harvard University
  • Norah Mulvaney-Day, Ph.D., Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical  School
  • Alexander Ortega, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
  • Debra J. Perez, Ph.D., Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Patrick Shrout, Ph.D., New York University
  • William Sribney, M.S., Third Way Statistics
  • Maria Torres, M.A., LMHC, Cambridge Health Alliance
  • William Vega, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
  • Doryliz Vila MS, University of Puerto Rico 
  • Meghan Woo, ScM, Harvard University School of Public Health

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