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The association of inequality with the incidence of schizophrenia

An ecological study

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Socio–economic factors are known to be associated with schizophrenia, but no studies have investigated the effect of inequality on incidence rates of schizophrenia. The aim of the study was to determine whether those electoral wards with greater inequality have a higher incidence of schizophrenia.


An ecological study was carried out involving a retrospective case record study to calculate the incidence of schizophrenia across wards in Camberwell, South London for the period 1988–1997, and an index of inequality within each ward was calculated.


There was no significant effect of inequality overall. However, in the group of deprived wards, the incidence of RDC schizophrenia increased as inequality increased (IRR 3.79, 95 %CI p = 0.019 after adjusting for age, sex, absolute deprivation, ethnicity, proportion of ethnic minorities and the interaction between individual ethnicity and proportion of ethnic minorities.


Increased inequality is associated with increasing incidence of schizophrenia, but only in the most deprived areas. This is independent of other known social risk factors.

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Correspondence to J. Boydell MB, BS MRCPsych.

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Boydell, ., van Os, ., McKenzie, K. et al. The association of inequality with the incidence of schizophrenia. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 39, 597–599 (2004).

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