Ethnic density as a buffer for psychotic experiences: findings from a national survey (EMPIRIC)
Jayati Das-Munshi, Laia Bécares, Jane E. Boydell, Michael E. Dewey, Craig Morgan, Stephen A. Stansfeld, Martin J. Prince
  • Declaration of interest




Aetiological mechanisms underlying ethnic density associations with psychosis remain unclear.


To assess potential mechanisms underlying the observation that minority ethnic groups experience an increased risk of psychosis when living in neighbourhoods of lower own-group density.


Multilevel analysis of nationally representative community-level data (from the Ethnic Minorities Psychiatric Illness Rates in the Community survey), which included the main minority ethnic groups living in England, and a White British group. Structured instruments assessed discrimination, chronic strains and social support. The Psychosis Screening Questionnaire ascertained psychotic experiences.


For every ten percentage point reduction in own-group density, the relative odds of reporting psychotic experiences increased 1.07 times (95% CI 1.01–1.14, P = 0.03 (trend)) for the total minority ethnic sample. In general, people living in areas of lower own-group density experienced greater social adversity that was in turn associated with reporting psychotic experiences.


People resident in neighbourhoods of higher own-group density experience ‘buffering’ effects from the social risk factors for psychosis.


  • Funding

    J.D.-M. is supported by a Medical Research Council fellowship. L.B. is supported by a Medical Research Council/Economic and Social Research Council fellowship. C.M. is supported by funding from the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust (grant: WT087417) and European Union. (European Community’s Seventh Framework Program (grant agreement No. HEALTH-F2-2009-241909) (Project EU-GEI)). In addition, we are grateful to the Institute of Social Psychiatry, who provided a small finds grant that enabled the retrieval and matching of area-level variables to the data-set. We acknowledge the support of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and (Institute of Psychiatry) King’s College London.

Royal College of Psychiatrists, This paper accords with the Wellcome Trust Open Access policy and is governed by the licence available at

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