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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2001 Feb;55(2):85-90.

Ethnic density and deliberate self harm; a small area study in south east London.

Author information

1
Department of Social Psychiatry, University of Groningen, PO Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, the Netherlands. j.neeleman@med.rug.nl

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVE:

Relative risks are frequently used to convey how strongly outcomes like mental illness and suicidal behaviour are associated with personal characteristics like ethnic background. This study examined whether RRs for deliberate self harm (DSH) in ethnic groups vary between small areas according to their ethnic mix.

DESIGN:

Small area study of DSH rates in ethnic groups, by local ethnic density, using negative binomial regression.

SETTING:

73 south London electoral wards, 1994-1997.

SUBJECTS:

1643 people attending casualty after DSH.

MAIN RESULTS:

African-Caribbean and Asian DSH rates, relative to the white population, varied between wards. A linear model indicated a decline by factors (relative rate ratios) 0.76 (95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.64 to 0.90) and 0.59 (95% CI 0.36 to 0.97) respectively per SD increase in the local size of these minority populations. However, for both groups, an inverted U shaped curve provided a better fit for the link between the relative DSH rate in these groups and their local population density.

CONCLUSIONS:

The DSH rate of minority groups relative to the white group is low (suggesting protection) in some areas, and high (suggesting risk) elsewhere. This has implications for management of suicidal behaviour in ethnic groups but also for interpretation, and policy implementation, of research on risk for suicidal behaviour, and, probably, many other outcomes. Relative risks or rates are not stable indicators of association in psychiatric epidemiology.

PMID:
11154246
PMCID:
PMC1731823
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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