Psychological Medicine

Research Article

Schizophrenia in Surinamese and Dutch Antillean immigrants to The Netherlands: evidence of an increased incidence

J.-P. SELTEN a1 , J. P. J. SLAETS a1 and R. S. KAHN a1
a1 Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital, Utrecht and Department of Geriatrics, Leyenburg Hospital, The Hague, The Netherlands


Background. Reports of an increased incidence of schizophrenia in Afro-Caribbean immigrants to the UK are a matter of much debate. It is of interest, therefore, that in the 1970s and 1980s many immigrants from Surinam and The Netherlands Antilles have settled in The Netherlands. The purpose of our study was to compare the risk of a first admission for schizophrenia for Surinamese- and Antillean-born persons aged 15–39 years to that for their Dutch-born peers in the period 1983–1992.

Methods. We used data from the Dutch psychiatric registry. Age-adjusted relative risks were calculated using Poisson regression analysis.

Results. The risk for the immigrants was found to be three to four times higher than that for the Dutch-born. Age-adjusted relative risks were significantly higher for male than for female immigrants.

Conclusions. The results provide evidence of an increased incidence in these immigrant groups and support similar findings on Afro-Caribbeans in the UK. Migration from Surinam was on such a large scale that selective migration of persons at risk for the disorder is unlikely to account entirely for these findings.


Dr Jean-Paul Selten, Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital, PO Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands.