Unemployment, ethnicity and psychosis


Jane Boydell, Department of Psychosis Studies, Box No 63, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK.
E-mail: jane.boydell@kcl.ac.uk


Boydell J, Bebbington P, Bhavsar V, Kravariti E, van Os J, Murray RM, Dutta R. Unemployment, ethnicity and psychosis.

Objective:  This study describes the incidence of psychosis in unemployed people and determines whether unemployment has a greater impact on the development of psychosis amongst Black minority groups than White groups.

Method:  Patients with a first diagnosis of Research Diagnostic Criteria psychosis, in a defined area of London from 1998 to 2004, were identified. Crude and standardised incidence rates of psychosis amongst unemployed people for each ethnic group were calculated. Poisson regression modelling tested for interactions between unemployment and ethnicity.

Results:  Hundred cases occurred amongst employed people and 78 cases occurred amongst the unemployed people. When standardised to the employed White population of the area, White unemployed people had a standardised incidence ratio (SIR) of 11.7 (95% CI 6.4–19.7), Black Caribbean people had a SIR of 60.1(95% CI 39.3–88) and Black African people had a SIR of 40.7 (95% CI 25.8–61.1). There was no interaction however between ethnicity and unemployment (Likelihood ratio test P = 0.54).

Conclusion:  Rates of psychosis are high amongst unemployed people in south London and extremely high amongst Black Caribbean and Black African unemployed people. There was no evidence however that the minority groups were particularly sensitive to the stresses, limitations or meaning of unemployment.