Psychological well-being in Black Caribbean, Black African, and White adolescents in the UK Medical Research Council DASH study

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2007 Sep;42(9):759-69. doi: 10.1007/s00127-007-0227-7. Epub 2007 Jun 29.


Background: It is not known if adolescents from diverse groups of Black African origin experience similar or different psychological well-being.

Aims: To examine adolescent self-report of psychological well-being among Black African and White UK origin groups and to assess the extent to which family type and social deprivation influence any ethnic differences.

Method: The 25-item Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was used to assess psychological well-being in a study of 6,632 11-13 year-olds in 51 schools in London.

Results: Overall, family type (but not material deprivation) was an important independent correlate of psychological well-being. Nigerian/Ghanaian boys reported the lowest mean Total Difficulties Score (TDS) compared to White boys (regression coefficient (95% CI) -2.09 (-2.83, -1.35) p < 0.001). They also had significantly higher mean pro-social behaviour score, and were at reduced risk of a high (i.e., likely psychological distress) TDS score. TDS was also significantly lower than Whites for other African boys and girls. Other African and mixed ethnicities were protective factors against risk of psychological distress for girls.

Conclusions: Black African boys and other African boys and girls reported the most favourable psychological well-being scores. The influence of family type on mental health may operate differently for girls compared to boys and for Africans compared to other ethnic groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Africa / ethnology
  • Black People / ethnology*
  • Caribbean Region / ethnology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • White People / ethnology*