Older, Church-Going African Americans’ Attitudes and Expectations About Formal Depression Care

Tracy Wharton, Daphne C. Watkins, Jamie Mitchell, Helen Kales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This phenomenological study involved focus groups with church-affiliated, African American women and men (N = 50; ages 50 and older) in southeast Michigan to determine their attitudes and expectations around formal mental health care. Data analysis employed a constant comparative approach and yielded themes related to formal mental health care, along with delineating concerns about defining depression, health, and well-being. Health and well-being were defined as inclusive of physical and spiritual aspects of self. Churches have a central role in how formal mental health care is viewed by their attendees, with prayer being an important aspect of this care. Provider expectations included privacy and confidentiality; respect for autonomy and need for information, having providers who discuss treatment options; and issues related to environmental cleanliness, comfort, and accessibility. Implications include providing effective, culturally tailored formal depression care that acknowledges and integrates faith for this group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-26
Number of pages24
JournalResearch on Aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • African American
  • church
  • community based
  • depression
  • mental health
  • older adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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