How is ethnicity related to schizophrenia? 

Some ethnic groups may show more or less risk for schizophrenia than other ethnic groups. Incidence refers to how many new cases there are per population in a specified time period, while prevalence refers to how many existing cases there are at a particular point in time. Differences in the incidence and prevalence across various ethnic groups can provide clues to possible causes of schizophrenia.

What is the evidence for ethnicity as a risk factor for schizophrenia?

Moderate to high quality evidence suggests the incidence of any psychotic disorder is greater in ethnic minority groups living in the UK or the Netherlands than in the majority population in those areas. The incidence of psychotic disorders in ethnic minority groups is highest in areas with low own-group ethnic density than in areas with high own-group ethnic density. There was also a small increase in the prevalence and incidence of subclinical psychotic symptoms in people from ethnic minority groups. Small effects showed increased rates of psychotic symptoms and experiences in people with high perceived ethnic discrimination.

For schizophrenia in particular, there is a large increased risk in black Caribbean and black African migrants living in the UK, and also in their descendants and a medium-sized increased risk for Asian migrants compared to the white British population. In the USA, moderate quality evidence found a medium-sized increased risk of schizophrenia in Black people compared to White people. This effect was largest in studies with more males, more White participants, more young participants, in studies conducted in hospital and military settings, and in studies conducted in the Midwest, Southeast or national/multistate USA settings.

April 2022

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Last updated at: 12:59 pm, 10th April 2022
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
Tags:  Ethnicity

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