Methods: The authors followed the PRISMA standards to complete this review. Studies were included in if they collected data from LGBTQ+ POC (over the age of 15) relating to their experiences in seeking and receiving mental health/substance abuse treatment and were completed since January 1, 1990. Searches were performed in 6 databases: CINAHL, PsychInfo, Social Services Abstracts, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global, PubMed, and Sociological Abstracts, with an expert-informed search string. Following duplicate removal, double-independent screening, and reference harvesting, 18 studies were included in the review. Relevant data were extracted from the studies, which was then synthesized using narrative thematic analysis.
Results: Studies varied regarding study design, methods, and outcomes. However, common patterns were identified. The patterns amongst the studies were grouped under treatment phases: pre-treatment, treatment, and post-treatment. Pre-treatment themes included identity and culturally specific presenting problems, access and barriers (e.g., mistrust, costs, geographical location), and determinates of help-seeking. Treatment foci for LGBTQ+ POC consisted of client attributions (e.g., culturally specific mental wellness practices, presenting problems), provider/agency attribution (e.g., cultural competence and humility), and characteristics of the client-provider relationship (e.g., goodness of fit). Post-treatment fluctuated from negative (e.g., pre-mature dropout) to positive experiences (e.g., self-integration, increased social connection). Overall, the findings underscored the importance of examining the treatment experiences of this population to develop culturally responsive interventions.
Conclusions and Implications: Common themes were identified across treatment phases. Examining LGBTQ+ POCs’ mental health and substance abuse treatment experiences has implications for improving the service delivery for this vulnerable population, in addition to training/education of future and current social workers. Future research should consider intergroup comparisons and employ more rigorous methods with larger sample sizes.