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Interviewer-perceived honesty as a mediator of racial disparities in the diagnosis of schizophrenia

​OBJECTIVE:African Americans are disproportionately diagnosed as having schizophrenia, and the factors that contribute to this disparity are poorly understood. This study utilized data from the 1995 MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study to examine the impact of racial differences in sociodemographic characteristics, clinical presentation, and perceived honesty on disparities in the diagnosis of schizophrenia among African Americans.METHODS:Researchers using structured assessments of diagnostic, sociodemographic, and clinical measures interviewed African Americans (N=215) and whites (N=537) receiving inpatient care for a severe mental illness. The impact of interviewers’ perceptions of the participants’ honesty on racial disparities in the diagnosis of schizophrenia was assessed.RESULTS:African Americans (45%) were more than three times as likely as whites (19%) to be diagnosed as having schizophrenia. Disparities in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics modestly contributed to disparities in diagnostic rates. In contrast, interviewer-perceived honesty proved to be a significant predictor of racial disparities in schizophrenia diagnoses. After adjustment for perceived honesty, diagnostic disparities between African Americans and whites were substantially reduced. Mediator analyses confirmed that interviewer-perceived honesty was the only consistent mediator of the relationship between race and schizophrenia diagnosis.CONCLUSIONS:Interviewers’ perceptions of honesty among African-American participants are important contributors to disparities in the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Clinicians’ perceptions of dishonesty among African-American patients may reflect poor patient-clinician relationships. Methods of facilitating a trusting relationship between patients and clinicians are needed to improve the assessment and treatment of persons from minority groups who are seeking mental health care. (Psychiatric Services 63:875-880, 2012; doi: 10.1176/

Authors: Eack SM; Bahorik AL; Newhill CE; Neighbors HW; Davis LE

Psychiatr Serv. 2012 Sep 1;63(9):875-80. doi: 10.1176/

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