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Lower prevalence of pre-morbid neurological illness in African-Caribbean than White psychotic patients in England

  • K. McKENZIE (a1), P. JONES (a1), S. LEWIS (a1), M. WILLIAMS (a1), B. TOONE (a1), P. SHAM (a1) and R. M. MURRAY (a1)...


Background. It has been suggested that the increased incidence of psychosis in African-Caribbeans living in England may be due to illnesses in which social stress plays an important aetiological role. If this is the case, the prevalence of factors associated with psychosis that predate illness onset such as obstetric complications, pre-morbid neurological illness and poor childhood social adjustment may be expected to be lower in African-Caribbean than Whites psychotic patients.

Method. Details of obstetric complications, pre-morbid neurological illness, and pre-morbid social adjustment were obtained for 337 psychotic patients by patient interview, interviews of mothers and chart review. The proportions of patients with each ‘risk factor’ in the African-Caribbean (N = 103) and White (N = 184) groups were compared using regression analysis; age, sex, social class, diagnosis and referral status were possible explanatory variables.

Results. African-Caribbean patients were less likely to have suffered a pre-morbid neurological disorder than their White counterparts (odds ratio 0.19, 95% CI 0.06–0.61). There was no significant difference in pre-morbid social adjustment or obstetric complications between the two groups, though fewer obstetric complications were reported in the African-Caribbean group (21.5%) than the White group (30.9%).

Conclusions. African-Caribbean patients with psychosis have experienced less pre-morbid neurological illness.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr Kwame McKenzie, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF.


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