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Assessing Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Social Consequences of Early-Onset Psychiatric Disorder


Individuals with early onset of psychiatric disorder have worse social outcomes than individuals with adult onset. It is unknown whether this association varies by racial/ ethnic group. Identifying groups at risk for poor social outcomes is important for improving clinical and policy interventions. We compared unemployment, high school dropout, arrest, and welfare participation by race/ethnicity and time of onset using a nationally representative sample of Whites, Blacks, Asians, and Latinos with lifetime psychiatric disorder. Early onset was associated with worse social outcomes than adult onset. Significant Black-White and Latino-White differences in social outcomes were identified. The association between early onset and negative social outcomes was similar across Whites, Latinos, and Blacks. For Asians, the association between unemployment and early onset was opposite that of Whites. Increasing early detection and treatment of psychiatric illness should be prioritized. Further study will clarify the association between onset and social outcomes among sub-ethnic populations.