Ethnic variations regarding clinical profiles and symptom representation in prisoners with psychotic disorders

BJPsych Open. 2018 Jan;4(1):18-28. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2017.3.


Background: Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups are known to have higher prevalences of psychotic disorders and are over-represented in western penitentiaries and forensic psychiatric institutions. Research from regular mental healthcare settings suggests that they could show different and more severe psychotic symptoms. Aims To explore ethnic variations in severity of symptomatology of BME and non-BME detainees with psychotic disorders.

Method: In this study, 824 patients with psychotic disorders from seven different ethnic groups, imprisoned in a penitentiary psychiatric centre in the Netherlands, were compared on symptom severity and symptom representation using the BPRS-E clinical interview. Data were analysed by means of a multilevel analysis.

Results: BME patients with psychotic disorders are over-represented in forensic psychiatry, and symptom profiles of prisoners with psychotic disorders vary by ethnicity. Additionally, severity levels of overall psychopathology differ between ethnic groups: patients with an ethnic majority status show more severe levels of psychopathology compared with BME patients.

Conclusions: There are differences in symptom severity and symptom profiles between BME patients and non-BME patients. Disregarding these differences could have an adverse effect on the outcome of the treatment. Possible explanations and clinical impact are discussed. Declaration of interest None.