Ethnic inequalities in the use of health services for common mental disorders in England

  • Claudia Cooper
  • Nicola Spiers
  • Gill Livingston
  • Rachel Jenkins
  • Howard Meltzer
  • Terry Brugha
  • Sally McManus
  • Scott Weich
  • Paul Bebbington
Original Paper



The purpose of this study is to investigate whether minority ethnic people were less likely to receive treatment for mental health problems than the white population were, controlling for symptom severity.


We analysed data from 23,917 participants in the 1993, 2000 and 2007 National Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys. Survey response rates were 79, 69 and 57 %, respectively. The revised Clinical Interview Schedule was used to adjust for symptom severity.


Black people were less likely to be taking antidepressants than their white counterparts were (Odds ratio 0.4; 95 % confidence interval 0.2–0.9) after controlling for symptom severity. After controlling for symptom severity and socioeconomic status, people from black (0.7; 0.5–0.97) and South Asian (0.5; 0.3–0.8) ethnic groups were less likely to have contacted a GP about their mental health in the last year.


Interventions to reduce these inequalities are needed to ensure that NHS health care is delivered fairly according to need to all ethnic groups.


Ethnicity Mental health services Inequality 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Cooper
    • 1
  • Nicola Spiers
    • 2
  • Gill Livingston
    • 1
  • Rachel Jenkins
    • 3
  • Howard Meltzer
    • 2
  • Terry Brugha
    • 2
  • Sally McManus
    • 4
  • Scott Weich
    • 5
  • Paul Bebbington
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mental Health Sciences (Bloomsbury Campus)UCLLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Health SciencesUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  3. 3.Institute of PsychiatryLondonUK
  4. 4.National Centre for Social ResearchLondonUK
  5. 5.Health Sciences Research Institute, Warwick Medical SchoolUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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