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To examine aging Puerto Ricans’ experiences with and perceptions of depression treatment.

In-depth analysis of eight exemplary cases from ethnographic interviews with a subsample of 16 aging Puerto Ricans in the Boston area who are part of the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study.

The results show that respondents were resistant to accepting pharmacological treatment for their depression, and they often characterized antidepressants as “dope.” Moreover, they claimed that in addition to their health problems, social stressors such as financial strain, lack of jobs, housing problems, and social isolation are triggering or contributing to their depression. Because of this, they express reluctance in accepting clinical treatment only, and suggest that broader social issues and other health needs ought to be addressed as part of an effective treatment. For many, pharmacological treatment is acceptable only in the more severe forms of depression.

Research limitations/implications
These results have important implications for improving the quality of depression treatment and reducing health disparities for mainland Puerto Ricans.

Originality/value of chapter
Even though recent studies continue to show a high frequency of depression among Puerto Ricans, issues of treatment quality are still understudied and ethnographic accounts are especially lacking. Our study offers an exploratory investigation of this unresolved research issue.



The final version of this chapter is published in Technology, Communication, Disparities and Government Options in Health and Health Care Services (Research in the Sociology of Health Care, Volume 32) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.275 - 303. It is also available through the publisher's website here:

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