April 24, 2015
1 min read

Transdiagnostic factors mediate link between perceived racial discrimination, psychiatric disorders

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Perceived racial discrimination was indirectly associated with psychiatric disorders via transdiagnostic factors, according to study findings in JAMA Psychiatry.

“Previous studies have characterized the structure and statistical properties of transdiagnostic factors. Still, little is known about how they might serve as a link between environmental exposures and mental disorders,” study researcher Craig Rodriguez-Seijas, BSc, of Stony Brook University, New York, and colleagues wrote.

To assess how perceived racial discrimination was related to specific psychiatric diagnoses and transdiagnostic factors, researchers reviewed data for 5,191 adults who participated in the National Survey of American Life from 2001 to 2003. Specifically, the study cohort included 3,570 blacks, 1,621 blacks of Caribbean descent and 891 non-Hispanic whites.

Analysis indicated that associations between racial discrimination and psychiatric disorders were significantly mediated through transdiagnostic internalizing and externalizing latent factors.

For all disorders that were not associated with substance use, indirect effects of internalizing and externalizing transdiagnostic factors accounted for 54.8% to 100% of associations between racial discrimination and disorders.

The association between racial discrimination and alcohol use disorders was mediated by transdiagnostic factors (42.9%). The association between racial discrimination and drug use disorders was mediated by transdiagnostic factors (45.7%).

“While increased levels of perceived discrimination are indeed associated with higher rates of mental disorders, this phenomenon can be explained by the higher transdiagnostic factor levels related to higher perceived levels of discrimination,” Rodriguez-Seijas and colleagues wrote. “Transdiagnostic factors may mediate environmental stressors’ associations with disorders, which is question for further study. These findings support the key importance of transdiagnostic factors in characterizing mental disorder.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.