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Factors in the onset of schizophrenia:a comparison between London andTrinidad samples

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Objective: Sociodemographic factors play an important role in the genesis of mental disorders. High rates of unemployment and other social factors have been reported previously among African‐Caribbeans with schizophrenia in London. The aim of the present study was to compare these factors in Trinidad with London African‐Caribbeans.

Method: Using internationally defined criteria, patients with first‐onset schizophrenia were recruited in both countries, and information on the onset of symptoms, help‐seeking, pathways into care, premorbid personality and educational and employment status were collected. These two samples are compared on a number of these factors. A total of 56 cases of first onset of psychosis coming into contact with psychiatric services in Trinidad were studied. Of these, 46 cases were diagnosed as having schizophrenia using the CATEGO program. Over a period of 2 years, 38 African‐Caribbean patients with schizophrenia were recruited in London.

Results: African‐Caribbean patients with schizophrenia in London were more likely to be admitted for perceived threat to others and to have shown loss of interest and serious neglect and to have assaulted others. A lower proportion were admitted via a psychiatrist and a higher proportion by the police. The unemployment rate among the London sample of African‐Caribbeans was much higher than that in the general population, whereas this was not the case for the Trinidad patients.

Conclusion: These findings are discussed in the context of culture and aetiology of schizophrenia, and suggestions with regard to future research are made.
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Keywords: African‐Caribbeans; London; Schizophrenia; Trinidad

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK, 2: St Anne's Hospital, Port of Spain, Trinidad, 3: St Bernard's Hospital, Uxbridge, 4: MRC Social and Genetic Development Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK and 5: University of West Indies, Port of Spain, Trinidad

Publication date: 01 February 2000

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