, Volume 39, Issue 12, pp 939-946

Risk factors and the prevalence of neurosis and psychosis in ethnic groups in Great Britain

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Our aim was to examine whether variations in the prevalence of neurosis and psychosis between ethnic minorities throughout Great Britain are explained by social disadvantage.


A total of 10,108 adult householders throughout Great Britain were assessed in a two-stage survey with the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS-R) and Psychosis Screening Questionnaire (PSQ). Respondents with a positive PSQ or who received a diagnosis of, or treatment for, psychosis were examined by a psychiatrist using the Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN). Data on respondents’ preferred ethnic group were collapsed into four groups: Whites, African-Caribbean or Africans, south Asians and other.


Ethnic grouping was strongly associated with: unemployment; lone parent status; lower social class; low perceived social support; poverty (indicated by lack of car ownership) and having a primary social support group of less than three close others. All these associations applied to the group Africans and Afro-Caribbeans, but only some applied to the other groups. No ethnic group had significantly increased rates of neurosis. Only the African-Caribbean group were at significantly increased risk of a psychotic disorder (odds ratio 4.55; 95% CI: 1.13, 18.30). After adjustment for risk factors, the odds of psychosis were lower (odds ratio 2.97; 95% CI: 0.66, 13.36).


The excess of psychosis in Africans and Afro-Caribbeans in Great Britain appears to be partly explained by socio-economic disadvantage, but larger studies are needed to confirm this.