Non-Hispanic blacks are almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, but they’re significantly less likely to receive medication for treatment, according to researchers.
These are some of the findings of a recent study published in the journal Psychiatric Services, which reported significant racial-ethnic differences in diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric conditions across 11 private, not-for-profit U.S. healthcare delivery systems.
The organizations were part of the Mental Health Research Network, a consortium of research centers based in large not-for-profit health care systems that have a mission to improve the management of mental health conditions.
“It’s concerning that we saw a higher rate of diagnosis of schizophrenia and seemingly an undertreatment in terms of pharmacotherapy for that group,” said Ashli A. Owen-Smith, co-author of the study and assistant professor of health management and policy in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
“In general, pharmacotherapy is an important part of the treatment plan. That’s a finding that warrants some additional research.”
An estimated 25 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from some type of psychiatric condition at any time, with the most common conditions being depression and anxiety.
Psychiatric conditions lead to greater disability than other chronic illnesses and cost the U.S. as much as $300 billion each year.
In this study, the participating healthcare systems had a combined 7.5 million patients age 18 or older, with about 1.2 million patients receiving a psychiatric diagnosis in 2011. Diagnoses included anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia spectrum disorder and other psychoses.