Category: Schizophrenia / Psychotic Disorders

Symposium

Age of Onset of U.S. Latinos With Psychosis: Is Immigrant Status a Protective or Risk Factor?

Friday, November 17
1:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom E, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Psychosis / Psychotic Disorders | Hispanic Americans | Risk / Vulnerability Factors
Presentation Type: Symposium

Background: We examined the age of onset of US-born and immigrant Latinos with first episode psychosis (FEP) to test whether immigrant status serves as a protective factor, revealed by having a later age of onset, or risk factor, revealed by an earlier age of onset.


 Methods: Data were collected over a two-year period from 68 Latinos with FEP of which most were men (71%) with a mean age of 27.9 years (SD = 10.84). A total of 39 (57%) individuals were US-born and 29 were immigrants (60.7% of Mexican origin).  Informants were family caregivers and their ill relatives.  Medical records were sometimes consulted as well.


Results: The mean age of onset for the complete sample was 24.6 years old (SD = 9.18). Compared to those born in the US (M = 21.82 years, SD = 6.88), immigrant Latinos (M = 28.46 years, SD = 10.62) experienced a significantly later age of onset (p < .01, d = 0.74). To explore whether relative contact with country of origin serves as a protective factor or if relative contact with the US serves as a risk factor, we computed the proportion of immigrants’ lives spent in their country of origin (n = 29, M = 0.52, SD = 0.21), and then we assessed their relationship to age of onset. We found that a greater proportion of years living in one’s native country was associated with an earlier onset of illness (r = -0.42, p = 0.03).


 Conclusion: Latino immigrants have a later age of onset than US-born Latinos. This finding could reflect something protective about having lived in their country of origin, something toxic about being born and raised in the United States, or a combination of both factors. Future research would do well to consider what it is about immigrant and native-born status that could serve as protective and risk factors and measure them directly.

Daisy Lopez

University of Southern California

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