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Compr Psychiatry. 1988 May-Jun;29(3):285-97.

Black-white differences in psychopathology in an urban psychiatric population.

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  • 1Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA 15213-2593.


The study was conducted in a psychiatric setting that services a large metropolitan population. It relied on the semi-structured Initial Evaluation Form which is completed by expert trained clinicians and which is geared to a comprehensive evaluation along the lines stipulated in DSM-III. The symptoms of a large sample of white and black patients are compared. The study relied on an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) procedure which controlled for age, gender and education and concentrated exclusively on ethnic differences in clinically homogenous subgroups. The sample was partitioned into relatively pure groups of DSM-III diagnoses that are frequent in the population, including schizophrenia, affective and anxiety disorders, dementia, paranoid and manic disorders. Prominent black/white differences in psychopathology were noted, but in only a few instances included items generally thought of as typical of a specific disorder. Some differences appeared to be due to selection factors and others raised the question of alternate expressions of psychopathology among blacks as versus whites. The significance of the results obtained is discussed together with questions requiring further research. Some of the issues involved in the study of black/white differences in psychopathology are critically analyzed.

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