Individuals from ethnic minorities who live in small groups in
the community are more likely to suffer from schizophrenia,
according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.
The study by the Institute of Psychiatry shows that the rate of
schizophrenia among people from non-white ethnic groups rises as
the proportion of these groups in the local population falls.
Researchers analysed information on people who had contact with
psychiatric services during 1988-97. They found that schizophrenia
was most common in non-white ethnic groups when these minorities
comprised a small proportion of the population, and least common
when they comprised a large proportion.
The findings suggest a social cause for the increased rate of
schizophrenia in non-white ethnic groups. Specific stresses could
include overt discrimination, institutionalised racism, alienation,
and isolation, and people from ethnic minorities may be more likely
to be singled out or more vulnerable when they are in a small
Reduced protection from the effects of such stresses could be
due to fewer social networks in small or dispersed ethnic minority