Psychosis: Is prevention possible?

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Schwartz, C., Yung, D., Cairncross, N., Barican, J., Gray-Grant, D., & Waddell, C. (2020). Psychosis: Is prevention possible? Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 14(3), 1–14. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: Controversy persists about whether or not it is possible to prevent psychotic disorders. We set out to identify if there were any effective interventions that prevent psychosis among youth.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating prevention interventions. After applying our rigorous inclusion criteria, we accepted three RCTs –  evaluating one supplement and two psychosocial interventions with youth found to be at high-risk for psychosis.

Results: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) supplements reduced psychosis diagnoses and symptoms use and improved overall functioning over six years follow-up. Two other interventions – Auditory Cognitive Training and Family-Focused Treatment – did not produce significant benefits post-intervention.

Conclusions: More studies are needed to replicate results for PUFAs. As well, additional research is needed to develop psychosocial interventions that may help high-risk youth. Given the high burdens and costs associated with psychosis, prevention remains an important goal for youth and families.

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