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Hispanic Stereotypes and Alcohol and Drug Abuse among Rural Youth

Cultural stereotypes about Hispanics could impede Latino youth from seeking help for drug and alcohol abuse. In turn, substance-abuse treatment providers must better understand how their own attitudes toward culture can affect the provision of sufficient behavioral health services, according to a new study.

The study obtained first-hand information from practitioners to propose the development of culturally relevant, quality care for rural adolescent populations that have limited access to behavioral health care.

Researchers with the PIRE Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest and the University of Montana found four commonly held cultural stereotypes that health care providers' believed inhibited Hispanic youth from seeking help for substance abuse - family, religion and spirituality, gender roles and socioeconomic factors.

From this study, changes to substance abuse treatment services can be made to better provide care for rural adolescents and their families. Researchers recommend a series of modifications to the training of behavioral health care providers. Culturally competent care includes not only providing appropriate Spanish-language services, but also education and employment opportunities for youth and families -- even those lacking legal residency.

Furthermore, state and local governments should consider mechanisms that encourage the training, hiring and licensing of local behavioral health professionals who represent the cultural background of the communities in which they serve.

Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

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