Early signs and symptoms of psychosis among Palauan adolescents


Dr Paul Florsheim, Center for Addictions and Behavioral Health Research, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1020 N 12th Street, Suite 4180, Milwaukee, WI 53233, USA. Email: paulf@uwm.edu


Aim: This study was designed to identify early symptoms associated with the occurrence of psychosis during adolescence.

Method: Participants were recruited in the Republic of Palau, an isolated island nation in Micronesia with a prevalence rate for schizophrenia of 1.99%. Diagnostic interviews were used to obtain reports of early and current symptoms from 112 genetically high-risk (GHR) and 208 genetically low-risk (GLR) adolescents (ages 16–23). Based on current psychotic symptoms, participants were sorted into three groups: non-clinical, at-risk/symptomatic risk and clinically symptomatic.

Results: Multivariate analysis of variance revealed several between-group differences on rates of early symptoms. Most notably, youth who were in the GHR-clinically symptomatic group reported significantly higher rates of early marijuana use than GLR-clinically symptomatic youth, who were significantly more likely to report early symptoms of depression and behaviour disorders. In addition, several gender based differences in the link between early symptoms and adolescent onset psychosis were noted.

Conclusions: Findings are generally consistent with previous research on early indicators, though several unexpected findings suggest that results from this study may not be fully generalizable beyond this relatively isolated and culturally distinct Micronesian nation.