BACKGROUND There have been few prospective studies of the long-term outcome of psychosis in people of Afro-Caribbean origin in the UK.
METHOD We followed-up a population-based, consecutive series of 34 Afro-Caribbean and 54 White people with psychosis who had been extensively investigated during their first admission in 1973/74. Diagnoses were made by direct interview using the Present State Examination at both first admission and follow-up.
RESULTS Ninety-seven percent of the original sample were traced. A slightly greater proportion of the Afro-Caribbean people were assigned to the S+ Catego class (schizophrenia), both on first assessment and at follow-up. No difference was found between the two groups in the consistency of diagnosis over the 18 years or in the proportion of patients considered psychotic but Afro-Caribbean people tended to have fewer negative symptoms at follow-up. There were striking differences between the two groups in their experience of psychiatric care; Afro-Caribbean people were more likely to have been readmitted, to have experienced longer hospitalisations, and to have undergone more involuntary admissions than their White counterparts.
CONCLUSIONS Afro-Caribbean people who met clinical and research criteria for schizophrenia had a less satisfactory experience of, and response to, psychiatric care over 18 years than their White counterparts.