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It has been observed that mental disorders, such as psychosis, are more common for people in some ethnic groups in areas where their ethnic group is less common. We set out to test whether this ethnic density effect reflects minority status in general, by looking at three situations where individual characteristics differ from what is usual in a locality.

Using data from the South East London Community Health study (n=1698) we investigated associations between minority status (defined by: ethnicity, household status and occupational social class) and risk of psychotic experiences, common mental disorders and parasuicide. We used a multilevel logistic model to examine cross-level-interactions between minority status at individual and neighbourhood levels.

Being Black in an area where this was (10%) less common was associated with higher odds of psychotic experiences (odds ratio (OR) 1.34 95% CI 1.07 to 1.67), and attempted suicide (OR 1.84 95% CI 1.19 to 2.85). Living alone where this was less usual (10% less) was associated with increased odds of psychotic experiences (OR 2.18 95% CI 0.91 to 5.26), while being in a disadvantaged social class where this was less usual (10% less) was associated with increased odds of attempted suicide (OR 1.33 95% CI 1.03 to 1.71). We found no evidence for an association with common mental disorders.

The relation between minority status and mental distress was most apparent when defined in terms of broad ethnic group but was also observed for individual household status and occupational social class.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number14
Early online date15 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


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