Studies have consistently shown a higher incidence of schizophrenia with onset in early adult life in African and Caribbean migrants to the UK.
To establish the incidence (first-contact rates) of very-late-onset (>60 years) schizophrenia-like psychosis (SLP) in south London and to test the hypothesis that this is higher among African— and Caribbean-born than indigenous elders.
We identified all new referrals of SLP to the Maudsley Hospital between 1995 and 2000. Demographic details, including age, ethnicity and electoral ward (address), were obtained from case notes. Incidence was estimated using 1997 census data to determine the denominator population for each ethnic group.
The incidence of SLP was significantly higher in African— and Caribbean-born than indigenous elders: 172.4 per 100 000 population (95% Cl=579–286.8) in African— and Caribbean-born males and 323.5 per 100 000 population (95% Cl 167.8–479.1) in African— and Caribbean-born females. Rates also were increased in elders from other immigrant groups, but the numbers involved were too small to reach accepted levels of significance.
Large-scale epidemiological studies are needed to determine both the incidence of and the coexistent risk factors for SLP among all elderly migrants, who may constitute a group with high service needs.