Parental Attitudes Toward Child Mental Health Services: The Influence of Ethnicity and Child Characteristics on Help-Seeking Intentions
Turner, Erlanger A.
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Help-seeking has been studied for over 20 years, but much is yet to be known about what variables influence parental help-seeking. In the present studies, participants were recruited from Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Study 1, included 260 caregivers recruited from local school districts and a church. Using confirmatory factor analysis, results supported the hypothesized 3-factor structure of the Parental Attitudes Toward Psychological Services Inventory (PATPSI) and internal consistency ranged from moderate to high. Study 2 conducted subsequent analyses on the data from Study 1. Correlation analyses supported the relationships among parental attitudes, stigma, and help-seeking. Secondly, parents with previous use of child mental health services reported more positive attitudes and less stigma than parents with no previous use. Thirdly, no significant gender differences were found, but there was a trend toward parents reporting higher intentions for boys than girls. Additionally, African Americans reported less positive attitudes and more stigma than the other ethnic groups. Finally, moderation analyses suggested that attitudes are more likely to influence help-seeking for European Americans but not for African Americans, and stigma appeared to influence helpseeking for Hispanic Americans but not for European Americans; no moderation effects were found for child gender. Finally, analyses indicated that only stigma and attitudes were significant independent predictors of help-seeking. Study 3 was a sub-sample from Study 1 (N = 118) who completed additional measures. The purpose was to replicate findings from Study 2 and examine test-retest reliability of the PATPSI. Test-retest reliability for the PATPSI was low in this sample. Overall, results were consistent with Study 2. Results indicated that parents with previous service use reported higher externalizing symptoms (not internalizing) than those with no previous use. Inconsistent with Study 2, Asian Americans reported less positive attitudes, and African Americans reported less stigma than European Americans and Asian Americans. Additionally, stigma tolerance was found to have a stronger influence on European Americans likelihood of future service use than for African Americans. Furthermore, the interaction between problem type and gender was not a significant predictor of likelihood of future use. Finally, only previous service use and attitudes (not stigma) were independent predictors of likelihood of future use. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.