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In adults the prevalence of psychological distress varies in different ethnic groups, and this has been explained by differences in socio-economic status. Is this also the case in adolescents?
To examine whether ethnic differences in prevalence of psychological distress in adolescents are associated with social deprivation.
A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was used to assess 2790 male and female pupils, aged 11–14 years, from a representative sample of 28 east London secondary schools.
Rates of psychological distress were similar to rates in UK national samples in boys and girls. Bangladeshi pupils, although highly socially disadvantaged, had a lower risk of psychological distress (OR=0.63, 95% CI 0.4–0.9). Non-UK White girls had higher rates of depressive symptoms (OR=1.54, 95% C11.1–2.2).
High rates of depressive symptoms in non-UK White girls may be related to recent migration. Low rates of psychological distress in Bangladeshi pupils in this sample relative to White pupils, despite socio-economic disadvantage, could be associated with cultural protective factors that require further investigation.
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