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Psychiatr Danub. 2010 Jun;22(2):266-9.

Issues regarding the delivery of early intervention psychiatric services to the South Asian population in England.

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  • 1South Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust, Bedfordshire Centre for Mental Health Research in association with the University of Cambridge, UK.



Little research has been done to ascertain how patients and families of South Asian origin access and use early intervention mental health services today. The aim of this retrospective study is to gain a better understanding of how well South Asian patients engage with standard psycho-social interventions.


In June 2003 an audit was conducted amongst 75 patients from different ethnic groups in Luton. Measures of engagement with mental health services included; number of missed outpatient appointments over one year and compliance with medication regimes.


The results of this audit showed that South Asian patients are more likely to miss appointments and refuse to take medication in comparison to their Caucasian or Afro- Caribbean counter-parts. Further analysis revealed that the Bangladeshi subgroup had missed more appointments and had a greater proportion of medication refusal in comparison to the other Asian subgroups.


These results support the pioneering work by Dr Robin Pinto in the 1970s he observed that Asian patients perceive and utilise mental health services in a different way compared to the Caucasian population. The observations from our study depict the difficulties in engaging ethnic minority patients into existing services. Hence we argue that future interventions should be adapted and tailored to overcome cultural and language barriers with patients and their families.

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