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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 1999 Autumn;45(3):190-7.

Diagnoses of children and adolescents on initial presentation to a Nigerian outpatient psychiatry clinic.

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Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Child and adolescent psychiatry is an underdeveloped specialty in Nigeria, relegated by more entrenched cultural systems, such as traditional healers and syncretic churches, to merely an auxiliary role in child mental health care. Little is therefore known about the epidemiology of childhood disorders as encountered in psychiatric settings. We reviewed the outpatient psychiatric clinic's patient register at the Psychiatric Hospital of Uselu in Benin City, Nigeria, over a twenty-four week period. Fifty-three patients who presented in the twenty-four week index period had definite diagnoses indicated in the register. Of these, 68% had diagnoses denoting significant behavioral disturbances that would motivate their visit to allopathic hospitals after other, more culturally sanctioned healers were of little help. Our findings are compared with similar studies in other cultures.

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