Meta-Analysis of Black vs. White Racial Disparity in Schizophrenia Diagnosis in the United States: Do Structured Assessments Attenuate Racial Disparities?

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Abstract

Researchers have repeatedly observed that clinicians diagnose Black individuals with schizophrenia at greater rates than White individuals. We conducted a meta-analytic review to quantify the extent of racial diagnostic disparities in schizophrenia, examine whether structured-interview assessments attenuate these disparities, and assess for moderating factors. Studies were included that presented original probability-sample data and reported data sufficient to derive odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for schizophrenia diagnosis by race. In total, 14 studies using structured-interview diagnostic assessments and 41 studies using unstructured assessments met our inclusion criteria. Substantial heterogeneity was observed, but there was little evidence of publication bias. Inverse heterogeneity models showed that Black individuals were diagnosed with schizophrenia at greater rates than White individuals across all studies (OR = 2.42, 95% CI [1.59, 3.66]) as well as in studies using unstructured (OR = 2.43, 95% CI [1.59, 3.72]) and structured-instrument (OR = 1.77, 95% CI [1.31, 2.38]) diagnostic assessments. Studies using structured-instrument diagnostic assessments did not show statistically attenuated odds ratios compared with studies using unstructured assessments. Metaregression analyses indicated higher disparities in studies with higher proportions of White patients or lower average patient age; evidence was equivocal as to the effect of study setting (e.g., hospital vs. community clinic) and geographic region on racial disparities. Overall, racial diagnostic disparity in schizophrenia represents a robust albeit heterogeneous clinical phenomenon that has been stable over the past 3 decades; structured-instrument assessments do not fully mitigate these disparities, but power analysis suggests they may have a small effect.

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