Major discriminatory events and risk for psychotic experiences among Black Americans

Hans Oh, Courtney D. Cogburn, Deidre Anglin, Ellen Lukens, Jordan DeVylder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Racism is a multidimensional construct that impacts risk for psychosis through various complex pathways. Previous research has yet to fully explore how major racial discriminatory events contribute to risk for psychotic experiences in the general population. We examined the National Survey of American Life to analyze the effects of 9 major racial discriminatory events on lifetime psychotic experiences among Black Americans. By examining each event separately, we found that police discrimination was associated with increased risk for lifetime psychotic experiences after adjusting for demographic variables, socioeconomic status, and co-occurring psychological or social problems. Being denied a promotion, being a victim of police abuse, and being discouraged from pursuing education were associated with lifetime visual hallucinations, and being discouraged from pursuing education was also associated with lifetime delusional ideation. None of the events were associated with lifetime auditory hallucinations. As a count of events, experiencing a greater range of major racial discriminatory events was associated with higher risk, particularly for lifetime visual hallucinations. Our findings point to the need for early detection and intervention efforts in community settings and multilevel efforts to eliminate racial discrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-285
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Discrimination
  • Police abuse
  • Psychotic experience
  • Structural racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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