Category: Schizophrenia / Psychotic Disorders


Immigrant Status and Duration of Untreated Psychosis Among U.S. Latinos

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 assessed the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) and its correlates in a sample of Latinos residing in the U.S. with first episode psychosis (FEP). Based on prior mental health service reports, we specifically tested the hypothesis that immigrant Latinos would have a longer DUP than U.S.-born Latinos.

Methods. Over a 2-year period, we examined the time from onset to any mental health or health professional contact for 72 Latinos with FEP in the San Fernando Valley within Los Angeles County.  To keep the focus on early psychosis, persons were excluded if they had been treated for over 1 year.  Individuals were recruited from a public outpatient mental health center (n = 30, 41.7%), a psychiatric emergency unit/inpatient unit within a public medical center (n = 36, 50%), and direct referrals from a community campaign to reduce DUP (n = 6, 8.3%). 

Results.  Of the total sample, 65 accessed professional help at baseline and their median and mean DUP was 32 and 143.11 (SD = 308.55), respectively.  As predicted, immigrants (n = 26, M = 249.23, SD = 453.28) had a longer DUP than U.S. born Latinos (n = 39, M = 72.37, SD = 111.03, t (27.01) = -1.95, p < .05, one-tailed). Greater delay in seeking professional treatment was associated with lower levels of education (r = -.33, p = .007) and English fluency (r = -.36, p < .01).

Conclusion. The findings indicate that immigrants and low English-speaking individuals with FEP suffer from greater duration of untreated psychosis. Efforts are needed to engage this segment of the Latino community in treatment for early psychosis.

Alex Kopelowicz

Vice-Chair and Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
UCLA School of Medicine


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Immigrant Status and Duration of Untreated Psychosis Among U.S. Latinos

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