Are current labeling terms suitable for people who are at risk of psychosis?

Research paper by Sung-Wan SW Kim, Andrea A Polari, Fritha F Melville, Bridget B Moller, Jae-Min JM Kim, Paul P Amminger, Helen H Herrman, Patrick P McGorry, Barnaby B Nelson

Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 25 Jan '17Published in: Schizophrenia Research


Inclusion of 'attenuated psychosis syndrome (APS)' in the DSM-5 has been hotly debated because of the concern about stigmatising young patients with a 'psychosis risk' label. This study aimed to investigate whether current labeling terms such as 'at risk mental state', 'ultra-high risk' (UHR) and 'APS' are suitable for people who are at risk of psychosis. This study included 105 subjects (55 patients aged 15-25years who used an early interventional service to prevent psychosis and 50 professionals who worked with them). A questionnaire regarding their opinions about the stigma associated with the above labels and the Mental Health Consumers' Experience of Stigma scale were administered. The patients were less likely than the professionals to agree that there was stigma associated with the terms 'UHR' and 'APS'. Significantly more patients with a family history of psychosis and those who had transitioned to psychosis agreed that there was stigma associated with the term 'UHR' and/or that this term should be changed. Patients who agreed with the negative attitude items for the three labeling terms and the need to change the terms 'UHR' and 'schizophrenia' showed significantly higher scores on the Stigma scale. In conclusion, patients at risk of psychosis may experience less stigma related to labels than expected by professionals, suggesting that mental health professionals may not be able to help patients unless they listen to their views on nosological and treatment issues rather than make assumptions. Previous stigmatising experiences may have strengthened the stigma attached to this label.