Although African Americans are overrepresented among schizophrenia diagnoses, assessments of memory deficits in schizophrenia often do not consider issues of race, ethnicity, and culture. Digit span testing (DST) is often used to assess memory problems associated with schizophrenia. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of psychiatric symptoms and demographic background on the DST performances of 128 African American schizophrenic patients. It was hypothesized that level of cultural mistrust would moderate the relationship of psychiatric and demographic variables to memory deficits. The study involved the secondary analysis of data from the Culturally-Sensitive Diagnostic Interview Research Project. Different models of the relationship among predictor variables in their impact on DST performance were tested via structural equation modeling (SEM); and the moderating effects of level of cultural mistrust were evaluated with the best SEM model. The results supported the hypothesis that level of cultural mistrust moderates the relationship among variables in the SEM model. Specifically, psychiatric symptoms negatively impacted DST performance in the low cultural mistrust group, but they had no significant association to the memory deficits of the high cultural mistrust group. The pattern of findings for the effects of psychiatric symptoms on DST performance is consistent with the view of cultural mistrust as an adaptive mechanism in African Americans. One implication is that cultural factors should be taken into account when assessing memory deficits in African Americans with schizophrenia.
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 22, 2011
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