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J Natl Med Assoc. 1999 November; 91(11): 601–612.
PMCID: PMC2608568

Psychiatric diagnosis of African Americans: diagnostic divergence in clinician-structured and semistructured interviewing conditions.


This study is a primary data collection that varied patient race and diagnosis and used two diagnostic interviewing conditions: one clinician-structured (phase one) and the other a semi-structured diagnostic instrument (phase two). Four basic research questions are addressed: What is the relationship between race and the hospital diagnosis? How is race related to diagnosis in both research interviewing conditions? Why does diagnostic concordance between the hospital diagnosis and the research diagnosis vary by research interviewing condition? Is diagnostic concordance between the hospital and research diagnosis influenced by patient race? A total of 291 patients completed an interview during phase one, while 665 patients completed an interview during phase two. Blacks were more likely to receive a hospital diagnosis of schizophrenia and less likely to be diagnosed with mood disorder. Patient race was similarly related to the research diagnoses produced in the clinician-structured research condition (phase one). Although less pronounced, a higher percentage of African Americans than whites received a diagnosis of schizophrenia using the semi-structured DSM-III-R Symptom Checklist (phase two). The black-white distribution for mood disorders showed that whites were more likely than blacks to be diagnosed with mood disorder.

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