Poverty, race/ethnicity, and psychiatric disorder: a study of rural children.
OBJECTIVES:This study examined the effect of poverty on the prevalence of psychiatric disorder in rural Black and White children. METHODS:A representative sample of 541 Black children and 379 White children aged 9 to 17 was drawn from 4 predominantly rural counties. Structured interviews with parents and children collected information on psychiatric disorders, absolute and relative poverty, and risk factors for psychiatric disorder. RESULTS:Three-month prevalence of psychiatric disorder was similar to that found in other community samples (20%). Federal criteria for poverty were met by 18% of the White and 52% of the Black families. Black and White children were exposed to equal numbers of risk factors overall, but the association between poverty and psychopathology was stronger for White children (odds ratio [OR] = 2.1; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.1, 4.2) than for Black children (OR = 1.5; 95% CI = 0.9, 2.6). Family history of mental illness, poor parenting, and residential instability mediated this association in both groups. CONCLUSIONS:In this rural sample, poverty was only weakly associated with child psychiatric disorders. Risk factors for both racial/ethnic groups were family mental illness, multiple moves, lack of parental warmth, lax supervision, and harsh punishment.
Costello, EJ; Keeler, GP; Angold, A
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