This study examined factors that mediate and moderate the relationship between gender and utilization of mental health and medical services in the past year among Puerto Rican drug users (308 females; 892 males) recruited in New York City. Experience of sexual or physical abuse, injection drug use, relationship variables (e.g., having a sexual partner who is an injection drug user), and serious or chronic mental/medical conditions were used as potential mediators and moderators. Both sexual and physical abuse mediated gender effects on use of mental health services. Having chronic medical problems mediated the relationship between gender and utilization of medical and mental health services. Significant interaction effects of gender by depression, physical abuse, and HIV sero-status on utilization of medical services were found. Health (particularly mental health) care was under-utilized by both women and men, despite high rates of depression and chronic medical conditions. The finding of under-use of medical services by HIV-positive drug users (particularly by HIV-positive women) indicates a need for further efforts to engage all HIV-positive persons in care. The findings also indicate an on-going need for mental and other health services for drug users who have been victims of abuse.
Factors mediating and moderating the relationship between gender and utilization of health care among Puerto Rican drug users in New York