Background: It has been frequently reported a higher incidence of psychotic disorders in immigrants than in native populations. There is, however, a lack of knowledge about risk factors which may explain this phenomenon. A better understanding of the causes of psychosis among first-generation migrants is highly needed, particularly in Italy, a country with a recent massive migration.
Methods/design: The "Italian study on first-episode psychosis and migration (PEP-Ita)" is a prospective observational study over a two-year period (1 January 2012-31 December 2013) which will be carried out in 11 Italian mental health centres. All participating centres will collect data about all new cases of migrants with first-episode psychosis. The general purpose ("core") of the PEP-Ita study is to explore the socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, and the pathways to care of a population of first-episode psychosis migrants in Italy. Secondary aims of the study will be: 1) to understand risk and protective factors for the development of psychotic disorders in migrants; 2) to evaluate the correlations between psychopathology of psychotic disorders in migrants and socio-demographic characteristics, migration history, life experiences; 3) to evaluate the clinical and social outcomes of first-episode psychoses in migrants.
Discussion: The results of the PEP-Ita study will allow a better understanding of risk factors for psychosis in first-generation migrants in Italy. Moreover, our results will contribute to the development of prevention programmes for psychosis and to the improvement of early intervention treatments for the migrant population in Italy.