Prediction of conversion to psychosis in individuals with an at-risk mental state: a brief update on recent developments

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Abstract

Purpose of review

So far, only little more than one-third of individuals classified as being at-risk for psychosis have been shown to actually convert to frank psychosis during follow-up. There have therefore been enormous efforts to improve the accuracy of predicting this transition. We reviewed the most recent studies in the field with the aim to clarify whether accuracy of prediction has been improved by the different research endeavors and what could be done to further improve it, and/or what alternative goals research should pursue.

Recent findings

A total of 56 studies published between May 2015 and December 2016 were included, of which eight were meta-analyses. New meta-analytical evidence confirms that established instruments for checking clinical risk criteria have an excellent clinical utility in individuals referred to high-risk services. Within a such identified group of ultra-high-risk (UHR) individuals, especially Brief Limited Intermittent Psychotic Symptoms and Attenuated Psychotic Symptoms seem to predict transition. Further assessments should be performed within the UHR individuals, as risk of transition seems particularly high in those with an even higher severity of certain symptoms such as suspiciousness or anhedonia, in those with lower global or social functioning, poor neurocognitive performance or cannabis abuse. Also, electroencephalography, neuroimaging and blood biomarkers might contribute to improving individual prediction. The most promising approach certainly is a staged multidomain assessment. Risk calculators to integrate all data for an individualized prediction are being developed.

Summary

Prediction of psychosis is already possible with an excellent prognostic performance based on clinical assessments. Recent studies show that this accuracy can be further improved by using multidomain approaches and modern statistics for individualized prediction. The challenge now is the translation into the clinic with a broad clinical implementation.

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