Past Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008-2009
Dr. Kristopher Chrishon completed his doctoral studies in Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Before entering Columbia, he received an MA in General Psychology from The Catholic University of America in 1999 and an MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education from The University of Michigan in 2001.
Dr. Chrishon's research interests focus generally on African American mental health and specifically on the impact of race on the psychiatric diagnostic assessment process. His dissertation explored the influence of hospital factors on racial differences in diagnostic patterns within inpatient settings. Specifically, he investigated whether there where racial differences in primary discharge diagnoses of psychotic and mood disorders and to determine whether hospital characteristics had an independent influence on diagnostic patterns. Black Americans had a significantly higher odds of being diagnosed with a psychotic disorder while White Americans were more likely to receive a diagnosis of mood disorder. Gender, age, insurance status, length of stay had little influence on this basic diagnostic pattern; neither did hospital characteristics such as ownership, bedsize, teaching/non-teaching, region, and urbanicity. These findings suggest two interpretations. First, it could be that Black Americans indeed have higher rates of psychotic disorders and lower rates of mood disorders than White Americans. However, equally plausible is the idea that Black Americans are misdiagnosed and that Black and White Americans instead have equivalent rates of mood and psychotic disorders. Though each proposition is tenable, the latter is problematic since it implies that Black Americans receive inappropriate and ineffective treatment. Despite a substantial literature implicating clinician's use of race based stereotypes to inform diagnostic judgment, further research is necessary to clarify how clinicians incorporate cultural information into the diagnostic assessment process. Dr. Chrishon is an assistant professor in the Division of Clinical and Administrative Sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans.