Ethnic inequalities in involuntary admission under the Mental Health Act: An exploration of mediation effects of clinical care prior to the first admission

Daniela Fonseca de Freitas, Susan Walker, Patrick Nyikavaranda, Johnny Downs, Rashmi Patel, Mizanur Khondoker, Kamaldeep Bhui, Richard D. Hayes

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Studies show ethnic inequalities in rates of involuntary admission and types of clinical care (such as psychological therapies). However, few studies have investigated if there is a relationship between clinical care practices and ethnic inequalities in involuntary admission.

Aims: This study investigated the impact of ethnicity and clinical care on involuntary admission and the potential mediation effects of prior clinical care.

Method: In this retrospective cohort study, we used data from the electronic records of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and identified patients with a first hospital admission between January 2008 and May 2021. Logistic regression and mediation analyses were used to investigate the association between ethnicity and involuntary admission, and whether clinical care, in the 12 months preceding admission, mediates the association.

Results: Compared with White British people, higher odds of involuntary admission were observed among 10 of 14 minority ethnic groups; with more than twice the odds observed among people of Asian Chinese, of Asian Bangladeshi and of any Black background. There were some ethnic differences in clinical care prior to admission, but these had a minimal impact on the inequalities in involuntary admission. More out-patient appointments and home treatment were associated with higher odds of involuntary admission, whereas psychological therapies and having a care plan were associated with reduced odds of involuntary admission.

Conclusions: Ethnic inequalities in involuntary admission persist after accounting for potential mediating effects of several types and frequencies of clinical care. Promoting access to psychological therapies and ensuring that care plans are in place may reduce involuntary admissions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalThe British Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
Early online date25 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • community mental healthcare
  • ethnicity
  • health inequities detention
  • involuntary hospital admission

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