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Am J Epidemiol. 1989 Oct;130(4):725-35.

The prevalence of major depression in black and white adults in five United States communities.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver 80262.


There have been inconsistent findings on race differences in the rates and nature of depression, which are probably due to methodological differences between studies. Data are presented on the prevalence of major depression in white and black adults from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study, which examined a large community sample of five United States sites using diagnostic criteria based on the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Third Edition. A total of 16,436 adults living in New Haven (Connecticut), Baltimore (Maryland), St. Louis (Missouri), the Piedmont area of North Carolina, and Los Angeles (California) were surveyed in 1980-1983. In the five sites, age-adjusted analyses by site and sex did not show any consistent black excess in lifetime prevalence or six-month prevalence; white men as compared with black men in particular tended to have slightly higher prevalence of major depression. At all sites, in the 18-24 years age group, black women as compared with white women showed a trend for higher six-month prevalence. White men in the 18-24 years age group showed a trend for higher six-month prevalence than black men. In New Haven, Baltimore, and the Piedmont area of North Carolina, logistic regression analyses of lifetime prevalence (by site and sex) showed no significant or consistent interaction of race with household income or age. Controlling for age and household income, whites tended to have higher lifetime prevalence than black at each of these three sites, regardless of sex.

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