Background. African-Caribbean patients have less desirable
routes of entry into the psychiatric
services than other ethnic groups in Britain but this may not apply to
contact with services.
Methods. Patients' pathways to care, type of admission
or referral and sectioning details were
recorded for all first contact patients presenting to south London psychiatric
services over a 2-year
period. We also conducted a retrospective analysis of data from the Camberwell
comparing rates of compulsory admission between ‘Whites’
and ‘African-Caribbeans’ for first
and readmissions, over a 20-year period.
Results. Our first contact sample comprised 38 White, 38 African-Caribbean
and 24 Asian patients
with CATEGO defined broad schizophrenia. GP referral was found to be the
most common mode
of contact and there were no significant differences between the ethnic
groups with regard to
compulsory admission. Similarly, data from the Camberwell Register showed
difference in rates of compulsory admission between first admission White
patients. However, when all readmissions were examined, African-Caribbeans
were more likely to
be admitted involuntarily.
Conclusions. Our findings suggest that reports of less desirable
routes of entry for
African-Caribbean patients into the psychiatric service do not apply to
their first admission but are likely
to develop over time and repeated contact with the services.