Study casts light on schizophrenia causes

Individuals from ethnic minorities who live in
small groups in the community are more likely to suffer from
schizophrenia than those who live in larger ethnic minority
communities, according to a report 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.

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. People from
ethnic minorities are also more likely to be singled out or more
vulnerable when they are in a small minority, notes the report.

The study, carried out in south London, backed
findings from similar studies carried out in the US and was partly
prompted by the fact that there are no known biological factors
that explain the increased incidence of schizophrenia in ethnic
minorities. Researchers analysed information on people who had
contact with psychiatric services from 1988 to 1997.

– Incidence of Schizophrenia in Ethnic
Minorities in London
, BMJ volume 323, 8 December, 2001.

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