Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 39, Issue 12, pp 939–946

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


  • Traolach Brugha
    • University of Leicester, Section of Social and Epidemiological Psychiatry, Department of Health Sciences, Brandon Mental Health UnitLeicester General Hospital
  • Rachel Jenkins
    • WHO Collaborating Centre, Institute of Psychiatry
  • Paul Bebbington
    • Royal Free and University College London Medical School, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Archway Campus Whittington Hospital
  • Howard Meltzer
    • Office for National Statistics
  • Glyn Lewis
    • University of Wales, College of Medicine, Department of Psychological Medicine
  • Michael Farrell
    • Institute of Psychiatry

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-004-0830-9

Cite this article as:
Brugha, T., Jenkins, R., Bebbington, P. et al. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2004) 39: 939. doi:10.1007/s00127-004-0830-9



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.

Key words

risk factorsethnic groupsprevalenceGreat Britainmental health

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2004