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25. Child Abuse, Emotional Distress, and the Emergence of Psychosis
There is growing evidence that child abuse (CA) may be a risk factor for psychosis and associated with increased severity of psychotic symptoms. It remains to be studied if CA relates to an earlier onset of psychosis (EOP) which in turn is associated to poorer prognosis and higher psychological distress in adulthood. We hypothesized that participants with psychosis and a history of CA would report psychotic symptoms earlier in life and greater current distress than those without a history of abuse. In this cross-sectional archival analysis, participants included 46 outpatients with psychosis, ages 16-55. CA information was collected using a conventional interview/questionnaire, Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse, while symptom onset and current distress were measured through chart records and using the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. After adjusting for multiple comparisons, point biserial correlations showed that participants who experienced both childhood physical and sexual abuse (n=22; 49%) and their family/caregivers reported the onset of psychotic symptoms much earlier than participants who reported no abuse (p<.01). However, no correlations were found between distress and psychosis onset. These findings highlight the prevalence of CA in EOP and the need for further investigation into the role of CA and its impact on psychosis trajectory.