Background. There is little population-based evidence on ethnic variation in the most common mental disorders (CMD), anxiety and depression. We compared the prevalence of CMD among representative samples of White, Irish, Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani individuals living in England using a standardized clinical interview.
Method. Cross-sectional survey of 4281 adults aged 16–74 years living in private households in England. CMD were assessed using the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS-R), a standardized clinical interview.
Results. Ethnic differences in the prevalence of CMD were modest, and some variation with age and sex was noted. Compared to White counterparts, the prevalence of CMD was higher to a statistically significant degree among Irish [adjusted rate ratios (RR) 2·09, 95% CI 1·16–2·95, p=0·02] and Pakistani (adjusted RR 2·38, 95% CI 1·25–3·53, p=0·02) men aged 35–54 years, even after adjusting for differences in socio-economic status. Higher rates of CMD were also observed among Indian and Pakistani women aged 55–74 years, compared to White women of similar age. The prevalence of CMD among Bangladeshi women was lower than among White women, although this was restricted to those not interviewed in English. There were no differences in rates between Black Caribbean and White samples.
Conclusions. Middle-aged Irish and Pakistani men, and older Indian and Pakistani women, had significantly higher rates of CMD than their White counterparts. The very low prevalence of CMD among Bangladeshi women contrasted with high levels of socio-economic deprivation among this group. Further study is needed to explore reasons for this variation.