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Am J Public Health. 2013 Feb;103(2):330-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300891. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Mental health of African Americans and Caribbean blacks in the United States: results from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

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Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY 10016, USA.



Previous epidemiological studies have found lower mood, anxiety, and substance use disorder prevalence in Black Americans, in general, compared with White Americans. We estimated the prevalence and persistence of psychiatric disorders in African Americans, Caribbean Blacks, and non-Hispanic Whites.


We drew data from wave 1 (2001-2002) of the National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions, a nationally representative sample of US adults, which included 7529 African Americans, 469 Caribbean Blacks, and 24 502 non-Hispanic Whites.


Blacks had equal or lower prevalence than Whites of lifetime (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] =0.6 for African Americans; 0.3 for Caribbean Blacks) and 12-month (AOR =0.7 for African Americans; 0.4 for Caribbean Blacks) Axis I psychiatric disorders, but higher prevalence of several personality disorders. Among Blacks, Caribbean Blacks had higher prevalence of 12-month psychotic disorders and lower lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder, alcohol dependence, and drug abuse than African Americans. There were no differences in persistence of disorders between Caribbean Blacks and African Americans.


This study yielded new data on prevalence of mental disorders in these groups, which has important implications for clinical work with US Blacks.

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