African American Schizophrenia Essay

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African Americans have a unique relationship with the clinical disorder schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is more frequently diagnosed among African Americans than white Americans or any other racial or ethnic minority in the United States (Neighbors, Trierweiler, Ford & Muroff 2003). The reasons for this are complex and not fully understood. Because of this there is a considerable suspicion and mistrust of psychological care within the black community. Clinicians should take particular precaution in the diagnosis and treatment of African Americans.
The reasons for this disparity in diagnosis have been speculated upon and researched deeply, but findings are not definitive. It is possible that African Americans have a unique genetic predisposition to the disorder, however, this link is unsupported. There is also the potential that being exposed to particular environmental stressors increases the likelihood of African Americans developing the disorder. However, this is based off the assumption that prevalence should be equal across all races which is unlikely given African Americans are less frequently diagnosed with personality disorders and less likely to seek treatment (Department of Health and Human Services 2001). Additionally, studies featured in the DSM typically find no race differences in the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Therefore, the most likely and most widely accepted cause for this disparity is patient misdiagnosis (Neighbors, Trierweiler, Ford & Muroff 2003).
A comprehensive study has not been conducted on prevalence rates of schizophrenia in African Americans. However, in the early 1990s, a series of prospective studies were set up in London. These studies reported that rates of schizophrenia were 1.2 per 10,000 for the ...

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...quently diagnosed with schizophrenia than other races, which can primarily be attributed to misdiagnosis. This misdiagnosis is a result of diagnostic tools that fail to properly take cultural differences into consideration, as well as a lack of education on how to interpret these cultural differences. African-Americans are also less likely to seek and receive specialized treatment for cultural and economic reasons. Black patients benefit most from treatment by those in their own ethnic group, as well as clinicians with a mindful awareness of cultural differences and the justified mistrust of psychiatric care. Going forward greater research and attention should be given to the kinds of treatments that work best for African Americans. Improved education of clinicians will also help curb misdiagnosis and elevate the mistrust felt within the African American community.
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