Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 632–640 | Cite as

Mental disorders among parents/caretakers of American Indian early adolescents in the Northern Midwest*

  • Les. B. Whitbeck
  • Dan Hoyt
  • Kurt Johnson
  • Xiaojin Chen



This study reports prevalence and comorbidty of five DSM-III-R diagnoses (alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, drug abuse, major depressive episode, and generalized anxiety disorder) among American Indian and Canadian First Nations parents/caretakers of children aged 10–12 years from the Northern Midwest United States and Canada. Lifetime prevalence rates were compared to adults in the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) and Southwest and Northern Plains cultures from the AI-SUPERPFP study.


Native interviewers used computer-assisted personal interviews to administer the University of Michigan Composite International Diagnostic Interview (UM-CIDI) to 861 tribally enrolled parents and caretakers (625 females; 236 males) of 741 tribally enrolled children aged 10–12 years. Fathers/male caretakers ranged in age from 21 years to 68 years with an average age of 41 years; mothers/female caretakers ranged in age from 17 years to 77 years with an average of 39 years.


About three-fourths (74.6%) of the adults met lifetime criteria for one of the five disorders; approximately one-third (31.6%) met lifetime criteria for two or more of the five disorders. Prevalence of the substance use disorders was higher than those in the general population (NCS); prevalence of internalizing disorders (major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder) was very similar to those in the general population. Prevalence rates for alcohol abuse among the Northern Midwest adults were higher than those reported for Southwest and Northern Plains Tribes, but rates of alcohol dependency were very similar across cultures.


The higher prevalence rates for some mental disorders found for the Northern Midwest are discussed in terms of potential method variance. The Northern Midwest results reflect unique patterns of psychiatric disorders in the ubiquity of substance abuse disorders and the co-occurrence of substance abuse disorders with internalizing disorders. Reducing lifetime occurrences of substance abuse disorders would have an enormous positive impact on the mental health of this population.


mental disorder American Indian 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Les. B. Whitbeck
    • 1
  • Dan Hoyt
    • 1
  • Kurt Johnson
    • 1
  • Xiaojin Chen
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. of SociologyUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Dept. of SociologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

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