Are there racial differences in the experience of harmful or traumatic events within psychiatric settings?

Karen J. Cusack, Anouk L. Grubaugh, Eunsil Yim, Rebecca G. Knapp, Cynthia S. Robins, B. Christopher Frueh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The current study examined racial differences in the reported frequency and distress associated with potentially harmful or traumatic experiences occurring within psychiatric settings. One hundred and forty-two (109 African-American; 32 Caucasian) randomly selected adult consumers recruited from a community psychosocial day program completed a battery of self-report measures to assess experiences in the psychiatric setting, lifetime trauma exposure, PTSD severity, and were the subject of a chart review. A subset of participants (20%) also completed a qualitative interview exploring their perceptions of events occurring in psychiatric settings. Few racial differences were noted in the reported frequency or distress associated with particular events in the psychiatric setting. However, we found differential patterns of association between adverse psychiatric events and lifetime trauma history, and racial differences in diagnosis and medications prescribed by the mental health center. These racial differences merit further attention to better understand their meaning and to improve mental health services provided to both African-Americans and Caucasian public-sector psychiatric patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-115
Number of pages15
JournalPsychiatric Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Hospital
  • Psychiatric patients
  • Racial differences
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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