Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Race Affects Diagnosis of Schizophrenia

Researchers blinded as to patients’ race found that African-American subjects were more than twice as likely (odds ratio 2.7) to be diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum than white subjects. The effect held even after controlling for the presence or absence of serious affective disorder. “These observations suggest that in African-American subjects, psychotic symptoms may be overvalued by clinicians, skewing diagnoses toward schizophrenia-spectrum conditions, even with similar levels of affective symptoms as white subjects,” said Michael Gara, Ph.D., of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Piscataway, and colleagues from six medical centers. Their report appears in the June Archives of General Psychiatry.

Ambiguous factors—like the language used to express distress, intense ruminations, and personal experiences—may be misread as symptoms of psychosis among black people by some clinicians.

“[T]hese results remind clinicians to consistently challenge their own diagnostic assessments, particularly in patients from other ethnic groups or in those who are failing to respond to treatment,” concluded Gara, et al.

For more in Psychiatric News about mental health among African Americans, click here.
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