Ethnic inequalities in the use of health services for common mental disorders in England

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2013 May;48(5):685-92. doi: 10.1007/s00127-012-0565-y. Epub 2012 Aug 15.


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate whether minority ethnic people were less likely to receive treatment for mental health problems than the white population were, controlling for symptom severity.

Method: We analysed data from 23,917 participants in the 1993, 2000 and 2007 National Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys. Survey response rates were 79, 69 and 57 %, respectively. The revised Clinical Interview Schedule was used to adjust for symptom severity.

Results: Black people were less likely to be taking antidepressants than their white counterparts were (Odds ratio 0.4; 95 % confidence interval 0.2-0.9) after controlling for symptom severity. After controlling for symptom severity and socioeconomic status, people from black (0.7; 0.5-0.97) and South Asian (0.5; 0.3-0.8) ethnic groups were less likely to have contacted a GP about their mental health in the last year.

Conclusions: Interventions to reduce these inequalities are needed to ensure that NHS health care is delivered fairly according to need to all ethnic groups.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • England / epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Ethnicity / psychology
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Social Class


  • Antidepressive Agents