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Perceived major experiences of discrimination, ethnic group, and risk of psychosis in a six-country case-control study.

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Gelaye, Bizu 
Williams, David R 
Koenen, Karestan C 
Borba, Christina PC 


BACKGROUND: Perceived discrimination is associated with worse mental health. Few studies have assessed whether perceived discrimination (i) is associated with the risk of psychotic disorders and (ii) contributes to an increased risk among minority ethnic groups relative to the ethnic majority. METHODS: We used data from the European Network of National Schizophrenia Networks Studying Gene-Environment Interactions Work Package 2, a population-based case-control study of incident psychotic disorders in 17 catchment sites across six countries. We calculated odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for the associations between perceived discrimination and psychosis using mixed-effects logistic regression models. We used stratified and mediation analyses to explore differences for minority ethnic groups. RESULTS: Reporting any perceived experience of major discrimination (e.g. unfair treatment by police, not getting hired) was higher in cases than controls (41.8% v. 34.2%). Pervasive experiences of discrimination (≥3 types) were also higher in cases than controls (11.3% v. 5.5%). In fully adjusted models, the odds of psychosis were 1.20 (95% CI 0.91-1.59) for any discrimination and 1.79 (95% CI 1.19-1.59) for pervasive discrimination compared with no discrimination. In stratified analyses, the magnitude of association for pervasive experiences of discrimination appeared stronger for minority ethnic groups (OR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.12-2.68) than the ethnic majority (OR = 1.42, 95% CI 0.65-3.10). In exploratory mediation analysis, pervasive discrimination minimally explained excess risk among minority ethnic groups (5.1%). CONCLUSIONS: Pervasive experiences of discrimination are associated with slightly increased odds of psychotic disorders and may minimally help explain excess risk for minority ethnic groups.



Case−control, discrimination, first-episode, minority ethnic group, multi-country, psychosis, psychotic disorder

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Psychol Med

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Cambridge University Press (CUP)


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Financial support: This work was supported by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (grant HEALTH-F2-2010-241909, Project EU-GEI), and the São Paulo Research Foundation (grant 2012/0417-0). SM supported by NIH T32 MH 017119. CB supported by NIMH K01 MH100428. CA supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. Instituto de Salud Carlos III (SAM16PE07CP1, PI16/02012, PI19/024), co-financed by ERDF Funds from the European Commission, “A way of making Europe”, CIBERSAM. Madrid Regional Government (B2017/BMD-3740 AGES-CM-2), Fundación Familia Alonso and Fundación Alicia Koplowitz.