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Community Ment Health J. 1984 Fall;20(3):169-81.

The distribution of psychiatric morbidity in black Americans: a review and suggestions for research.


Despite extensive research, the epidemiologic literature is confusing and inconclusive in its assessment of how various forms of psychiatric morbidity are distributed within the black population. This article reviews empirical studies comparing rates of psychiatric morbidity between blacks and whites, focusing on findings from two types of epidemiologic research: treatment rate studies and community surveys. Two major conclusions are reached. The first is that no definitive conclusions can be drawn about black mental health status on the basis of treatment rate studies. The second is that community surveys, while methodologically superior to treatment rate studies, still fall short of answering important questions pertaining to black mental health status. It is argued that more epidemiologic research on representative all-black samples, discrete psychiatric disorders, and the validity/reliability of the NIMH's Diagnostic Interview Schedule is needed in order to adequately address issues of black mental health.

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