Background: The suffering people experience following a first episode of psychosis is great, and has been well-investigated. Conversely, potential positive outcomes following a first episode of psychosis have been under-investigated. One such outcome that may result from a first episode of psychosis is posttraumatic growth, or a positive aftermath following the trauma of a first psychotic episode. While posttraumatic growth has been described following other physical and mental illnesses, posttraumatic growth has received very little attention following a first episode of psychosis. To address this research gap, we will conduct a mixed methods study aimed at answering two research questions: 1) How do people experience posttraumatic growth following a first episode of psychosis? 2) What predicts, or facilitates, posttraumatic growth following a first episode of psychosis?
Methods/design: The research questions will be investigated using a mixed methods convergent design. All participants will be service-users being offered treatment for a first episode of psychosis at a specialized early intervention service for young people with psychosis, as well as their case managers.. A qualitative descriptive methodology will guide data-collection through semi-structured interviews with service-users. Service-users and case managers will complete questionnaires related to posttraumatic growth and its potential predictors using quantitative methods. These predictors include the impact a first episode of psychosis on service-users' lives, the coping strategies they use; the level of social support they enjoy; and their experiences of resilience and recovery. Qualitative data will be subject to thematic analysis, quantitative data will be subject to multiple regression analyses, and results from both methods will be combined to answer the research questions in a holistic way.
Discussion: Findings from this study are expected to show that in addition to suffering, people with a first episode of psychosis may experience positive changes. This study will be one of few to have investigated posttraumatic growth following a first episode of psychosis, and will be the first to do so with a mixed methods approach.
Keywords: Coping; First episode psychosis; Mixed methods; Posttraumatic growth; Recovery; Resilience; Social support.