Family history of psychosis negatively impacts age at onset, negative symptoms, and duration of untreated illness and psychosis in first-episode psychosis patients

Psychiatry Res. 2012 May 15;197(1-2):23-8. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 Apr 14.


Family history (FH) of psychosis has been a focus of investigations attempting to explain the heterogeneity in schizophrenia. Previous studies have demonstrated that FH is associated with earlier age at onset, severity of positive and negative symptoms, and the duration of untreated illness (DUI). The current study examined the impact of FH on the clinical presentation and help-seeking behaviors of a well-characterized, first-episode sample. The present study utilized the Symptom Onset in Schizophrenia (SOS) Inventory, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), and structured interviews on FH to examine these relationships in a large (n=152) sample of predominantly African American patients. Results showed that patients with a first-degree FH of psychosis had a younger age at onset of both the prodrome and psychosis, but did not differ in duration of prodromal period. Furthermore, FH and sex interacted to influence severity of negative, but not positive symptoms. Finally, FH interacted with sex to influence both the DUI and DUP in that only males with FH had longer DUI and DUP. The findings have implications for understanding the impact of specific family-related mechanisms on both clinical and help-seeking factors, as well as for informing future family-based intervention efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / genetics
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Young Adult