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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1997 May;19(3):216-22.

Geropsychiatric consultation for African-American and Caucasian patients.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York at Buffalo 14215, USA.


We assessed differences in the referral rates of African-American and Caucasian elderly for geropsychiatric consultation. Reasons for referral, assigned diagnoses, and interventions made were also compared. A retrospective chart review of psychiatric consultations was completed for patients aged 65 years and older for a 2-year period. Significantly more consultations were requested Caucasian elderly (6.2%) than for African-American elderly (3.8%). African-American elderly were referred for evaluation of psychosis significantly more often and for assessment of suicide potential significantly less often than Caucasians. Consultants diagnosed African-American elderly with psychotic disorders, specifically schizophrenia, and dementia significantly more often than Caucasians. Caucasian elderly were significantly more often diagnosed with mood disorders, especially depressive disorders. Interventions/recommendations made for Caucasian and African-American elderly did not differ for the most part. Recommendations for legal measures were suggested for African-American elderly more often than for Caucasians. Differences between Caucasian and African-American elderly were observed in consultation referral rates, reasons for referral, and psychiatric diagnoses made. The potential impact of cultural variables and the racial and age differences between hospital staff and patients may account for some of these findings. Further awareness of the needs of African-American elderly is required.

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