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ISSN: 1935-1232 (P)

ISSN: 1941-2010 (E)

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Abstract

The Relative Importance of Family History, Gender, Mode of Onset, and Age at Onset in Predicting Clinical Features of First-Episode Psychotic Disorders

Author(s): Michael T. Compton, Chantal Berez, Elaine F. Walker

Objective: Family history of psychosis, gender, mode of onset, and age at onset are considered prognostic factors important to clinicians evaluating first-episode psychosis; yet, clinicians have little guidance as to how these four factors differentially predict early-course substance abuse, symptomatology, and functioning. We conducted a “head-to-head comparison” of these four factors regarding their associations with key clinical features at initial hospitalization. We also assessed potential interactions between gender and family history with regard to age at onset of psychosis and symptom severity. Methods: Consecutively admitted first-episode patients (n=334) were evaluated in two studies that rigorously assessed a number of early-course variables. Associations among variables of interest were examined using Pearson correlations, χ2 tests, Student’s t-tests, and 2x2 factorial analyses of variance. Results: Substance (nicotine, alcohol, and cannabis) abuse and positive symptom severity were predicted only by male gender. Negative symptom severity and global functioning impairments were predicted by earlier age at onset of psychosis. General psychopathology symptom severity was predicted by both mode of onset and age at onset. Interaction effects were not observed with regard to gender and family history in predicting age at onset or symptom severity. Conclusions: The four prognostic features have differential associations with substance abuse, domains of symptom severity, and global functioning. Gender and age at onset of psychosis appear to be more predictive of clinical features at the time of initial evaluation (and thus presumably longer term outcomes) than the presence of a family history of psychosis and a more gradual mode of onset.