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Psychiatr Serv. 2009 Oct;60(10):1376-8. doi: 10.1176/

Effect of racial and ethnic composition of neighborhoods in San Francisco on rates of mental health-related 911 calls.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA.



This study investigated the association between the racial and ethnic residential composition of San Francisco neighborhoods and the rate of mental health-related 911 calls.


A total of 1,341,608 emergency calls (28,197 calls related to mental health) to San Francisco's 911 system were made from January 2001 through June 2003. Police sector data in the call records were overlaid onto U.S. census tracts to estimate sector demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Negative binomial regression was used to estimate the association between the percentage of black, Asian, Latino, and white residents and rates of mental health-related calls.


A one-point increase in a sector's percentage of black residents was associated with a lower rate of mental health-related calls (incidence rate ratio=.99, p<.05). A sector's percentage of Asian and Latino residents had no significant effect.


The observed relationship between the percentage of black residents and mental health-related calls is not consistent with known emergency mental health service utilization patterns.

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