Objective: To study use of analgesics, and psychotropic drugs in relation to health indicators in four ethnic minorities in Sweden in comparison with Swedish-born.
Design: Cross-sectional study based on data from the Survey of Living Conditions and Immigrant Survey of Living Conditions in Sweden in 1996.
Study population: Random samples of 1890 Swedish residents, in the age range 27-60 years, born in Chile, Poland, Turkey and Iran and 2452 age-matched Swedish-born residents.
Results: A two fold higher use of prescribed analgesics and antidepressants and a five to sixfold higher use of hypnotic and sedative drugs was demonstrated in members of ethnic minorities in Sweden in comparison with Swedish-born. In a multivariate analysis the higher use of prescribed analgesics and antidepressants was explained almost entirely by a higher morbidity in the minority study groups. A twofold higher use of sedatives and hypnotics was demonstrated in the minority study populations compared to the Swedish-born sample even after adjustment for extensive indicators of psychiatric and physical health in the multivariate analysis.
Conclusions: The higher use of sedatives and hypnotics in relation to health in the minority samples in the present study indicates a differential treatment of minor psychiatric disorders of members of ethnic minorities in Swedish health services. Further studies that yield more qualitative data regarding the interaction of Swedish physicians with migrant patients are needed to explain these differences and to create a basis for intervention.