A systematic review and meta-analysis of the ethnic density effect in psychotic disorders

Tania Josiane Bosqui, Katrina Hoy, Ciaran Shannon

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43 Citations (Scopus)



A number of studies have found an ethnic density effect in psychotic disorders, where the incidence for ethnic minorities increases as the neighbourhood proportional ethnic composition decreases [Morgan and Hutchinson, Psychol Med 40:705–709, (2010); Singh, Psychol Med 39:1402–1403, (2009); Schofield et al., Psychol Med 41:1263–1269, (2010)]. However, there is a mixed picture with some studies reporting no effect [Schofield et al., Psychol Med 41:1263–1269, (2010)]. This review aimed to establish the existence of the effect by answering the review question: is there an ethnic density dose effect in the prevalence of psychotic disorders?


A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted by two independent reviewers using PsychINFO, Web of Science and PubMed databases. Studies were measured against eligibility criteria and then pooled with any discrepancies discussed between reviewers. Studies were then assessed for quality using a standardised quality assessment.


In total, eight studies were included. A meta-analysis was conducted which found that the incidence of psychotic disorders was higher in low ethnic density areas than high ethnic density areas. A narrative synthesis reflected the complexity when results were broken down by individual ethnic groups where some ethnic groups had inverse or no associations with ethnic density. The synthesis also analysed methodological differences between studies.


The review reports evidence of an overall ethnic density dose effect for ethnic minorities, but with more mixed results for individual ethnic groups. The possible mechanisms behind this effect are explored, including exposure to racism, social capital and social cohesion hypotheses. The wide-ranging implications of the review are discussed along with recommendations for future research to continue to inform public health policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-529
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number4
Early online date11 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

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