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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2013 Dec;48(12):1861-72. doi: 10.1007/s00127-013-0753-4. Epub 2013 Aug 14.

Racial and ethnic disparities in the use of antipsychotic medication: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, University of British Columbia, 201-2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada,



To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of published evidence on ethnic or racial disparities in the outpatient use versus non-use of antipsychotics and in the outpatient use of newer versus older antipsychotics.


Electronic databases were searched for potentially relevant studies. Two independent reviewers conducted the review in three stages: title review, abstract review and full-text review. Included studies were those that: (a) report measures of disparity in the outpatient use of antipsychotic drugs in clearly defined racial or ethnic groups (b) have a primary focus on ethnic or racial disparities, and (c) have adjusted for factors known to influence medicine use. Odds ratios were pooled following the inverse-variance method of weighting effect sizes. I (2) statistics were calculated to quantify the amount of variation that is likely due to heterogeneity between studies. Funnel plots were produced and Egger's statistic was calculated to assess potential publication bias.


No significant differences were found in the odds of using any antipsychotics among African Americans (OR = 1.01, CI = 0.99-1.02) compared with non-African Americans and among Latinos (OR = 0.98, CI = 0.86-1.13) compared with non-Latinos. Small to moderate but statistically non-significant disparities were also noted in other ethnic groups: Asians (OR = 1.10, CI = 0.88-1.36), Maoris (OR = 0.78, CI = 0.53-1.13) and Pacific Islanders (OR = 0.97, CI = 0.84-1.11). Among those who received antipsychotic medication, African Americans (OR = 0.62, CI = 0.50-0.78) and Latinos (OR = 0.77, CI = 0.73-0.81) appeared to have lower odds of receiving newer antipsychotics compared with non-African Americans and non-Latinos.


No significant ethnic disparities in the use versus non-use of any antipsychotics were observed, but, among those who received antipsychotic treatment, ethnic minorities were consistently less likely than non-ethnic minorities to be treated with newer antipsychotics.

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