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Stigma as a stressor and transition to schizophrenia after one year among young people at risk of psychosis


Rüsch, Nicolas; Heekeren, Karsten; Theodoridou, Anastasia; Müller, Mario; Corrigan, Patrick W; Mayer, Benjamin; Metzler, Sibylle; Dvorsky, Diane; Walitza, Susanne; Rössler, Wulf (2015). Stigma as a stressor and transition to schizophrenia after one year among young people at risk of psychosis. Schizophrenia Research, 166(1-3):43-48.

Abstract

According to stress-vulnerability models, social stressors contribute to the onset of schizophrenia. Stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness may be a stressor for young people at risk of psychosis even prior to illness onset, but quantitative longitudinal data on this issue are lacking. We examined the cognitive appraisal of stigma-related stress as predictor of transition to schizophrenia among young people at risk of psychosis. In Zürich, Switzerland, 172 participants between 13 and 35years old and with either high or ultra-high risk of psychosis or risk of bipolar disorder were included. With 71 dropouts, transition was assessed during 12months among 101 participants of whom 13 converted to schizophrenia. At baseline, the cognitive appraisal of stigma as a stressor was measured by self-report, based on the primary appraisal of stigma as harmful and the secondary appraisal of resources to cope with stigma. Positive and negative symptoms were examined using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. Compared with participants who did not convert to schizophrenia, converters had significantly more positive (p<.001) and negative (p<.001) symptoms and reported higher levels of stigma-related harm (p=.003) and stress (p=.009) at baseline. More perceived harm due to stigma at baseline predicted transition to schizophrenia (odds ratio 2.34, 95%-CI 1.19-4.60) after adjusting for age, gender, symptoms and functioning. Stigma stress may increase the risk of transition to schizophrenia. Research is needed on interventions that reduce public negative attitudes towards young people at risk and that support individuals at risk to cope with stigma-related stress.

Abstract

According to stress-vulnerability models, social stressors contribute to the onset of schizophrenia. Stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness may be a stressor for young people at risk of psychosis even prior to illness onset, but quantitative longitudinal data on this issue are lacking. We examined the cognitive appraisal of stigma-related stress as predictor of transition to schizophrenia among young people at risk of psychosis. In Zürich, Switzerland, 172 participants between 13 and 35years old and with either high or ultra-high risk of psychosis or risk of bipolar disorder were included. With 71 dropouts, transition was assessed during 12months among 101 participants of whom 13 converted to schizophrenia. At baseline, the cognitive appraisal of stigma as a stressor was measured by self-report, based on the primary appraisal of stigma as harmful and the secondary appraisal of resources to cope with stigma. Positive and negative symptoms were examined using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. Compared with participants who did not convert to schizophrenia, converters had significantly more positive (p<.001) and negative (p<.001) symptoms and reported higher levels of stigma-related harm (p=.003) and stress (p=.009) at baseline. More perceived harm due to stigma at baseline predicted transition to schizophrenia (odds ratio 2.34, 95%-CI 1.19-4.60) after adjusting for age, gender, symptoms and functioning. Stigma stress may increase the risk of transition to schizophrenia. Research is needed on interventions that reduce public negative attitudes towards young people at risk and that support individuals at risk to cope with stigma-related stress.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:30 May 2015
Deposited On:17 Jul 2015 09:20
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:18
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0006-3223
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2015.05.027
PubMed ID:26036814

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