Background: Negative beliefs about illness in early psychosis have been shown to have an unfavourable impact on one's quality of life. A shift of focus in psychosis research has been on the detection of individuals considered to be at clinical high risk (CHR) of developing psychosis. Little is known about the impact that beliefs about psychotic like experiences or attenuated psychotic symptoms may have on CHR individuals.
Aim: To explore these beliefs in a large sample of young people at CHR of developing psychosis using the Personal Beliefs about Experiences Questionnaire (PBEQ).
Method: Beliefs about unusual experiences were assessed in 153 CHR individuals with the PBEQ. Prodromal symptoms (measured by the SIPS) and depression (measured by the CDSS) were also assessed.
Results: In CHR individuals, holding more negative beliefs was associated with increased severity in depression and negative symptoms. Higher scores on suspiciousness were associated with increased negative beliefs, and higher levels of grandiosity were associated with decreased negative beliefs. Those who later transitioned to psychosis agreed significantly more with statements concerning control over experiences (i.e. "my experiences frighten me", "I find it difficult to cope).
Conclusions: The results suggest that targeting negative beliefs and other illness related appraisals is an important objective for intervention strategies.
Keywords: Beliefs; appraisals; clinical high risk; prodrome; psychosis.