Psychosis May Be Overdiagnosed in Blacks

Suspicion of white-dominated institutions and society at large among African Americans may translate into overdiagnosis of schizophrenia, a researcher said here.

Identification of total psychosis and some specific schizophrenia symptoms in black patients significantly correlated with their scores on an index of cultural mistrust, reported William Lawson, MD, PhD, of Howard University in Washington, D.C., at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting.

He said the findings provide “limited support” to the idea that cultural factors contribute to the previously reported higher risk for schizophrenia diagnoses in African Americans.

At the same time, the findings might also help explain findings that bipolar disorder is less common in blacks than in whites, perhaps because it is underdiagnosed.