Differential Trajectories of Delusional Content and Severity Over 2 Years of Early Intervention for Psychosis: Comparison Between Chennai, India, and Montréal, Canada

Schizophr Bull. 2023 Mar 10;sbad007. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbad007. Online ahead of print.


Background: There exist few direct studies of delusional content in psychosis across geo-cultural contexts, especially those in which treatment protocols and measures are comparable. To directly examine an illness outcome that is potentially culturally mediated, this study investigated the baseline presentation and longitudinal trajectory of delusions in first-episode psychosis (FEP) across 2 similar treatment settings in Montréal (Canada) and Chennai (India).

Study design: Patients entering an early intervention program for FEP in Chennai (N = 168) and Montréal (N = 165) were compared on site-level differences in the presentation of delusions across specific time points over 2 years of treatment. Delusions were measured using the Scale for Assessment of Positive Symptoms. Chi-square and regression analyses were conducted.

Study results: At baseline, delusions were more frequent in Montréal than in Chennai (93% vs 80%, respectively; X2(1) = 12.36, P < .001). Thematically, delusions of grandiosity, religiosity, and mind reading were more common in Montréal than in Chennai (all P < .001); however, these baseline differences did not persist over time. Regression revealed a significant time-by-site interaction in the longitudinal course of delusions, which differs from the trajectory of other FEP-positive symptom domains.

Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first direct comparison of delusions in similar programs for FEP across 2 different geo-cultural contexts. Our findings support the notion that delusion themes follow consistent ordinal patterns across continents. Future work is needed to unpack the differences in severity that present at baseline and minor differences in content.

Keywords: delusions; first episode psychosis; geo-cultural context; symptomatology.