Racial and Sexual Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis: Psychiatrists and Other Mental Health Professionals Compared by Race, Sex, and Discipline

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Abstract

In a study designed to test for sex- and race-related bias in psychiatric diagnosis, the responses of 173 mental health professionals to four hypothetical patient profiles were analyzed. Minimal racial bias was observed. In some instances, therapists appeared more likely to make judgments biased against patients who were of the same race and sex as themselves. The results support the contention that hysterical and antisocial personality disorders are sex-biased diagnoses. The race of the therapist strongly influenced diagnosis. It is argued that this finding reflects resistance of nonwhite therapists to a majority-group-dominated diagnostic theory. Professional discipline rarely affected diagnosis with the exception that psychiatrists were more prone to diagnose psychosis.

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