TUESDAY, Feb. 28, 2023 (HealthDay News) — A school-based screening and referral intervention can reduce and prevent psychotic experiences in adolescents, according to a study published online Feb. 1 in BMC Public Health.

Lorna Staines, from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis of data from a clustered-randomized control trial of three school-based interventions aimed at reducing suicidal behavior to see whether these interventions (teacher training, universal education, and a screening and integrated referral) may prevent or reduce rates of psychotic experiences at three-month and one-year follow-up.

The researchers found that at 12 months, the screening and referral intervention was associated with a significant reduction in psychotic experiences (odds ratio, 0.12) versus the control arm. No effect was seen for the teacher training and education intervention. The screening and referral arm also showed a prevention benefit (odds ratio, 0.30). Compared with those without psychotic experiences, participants with psychotic experiences showed higher levels of depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as different responses to the screening and referral intervention and universal-education intervention.

“Psychotic experiences are particularly common in the adolescent population and are associated with a fourfold increased risk for psychotic disorder, and a threefold increased risk for any mental disorder,” Staines said in a statement. “This study has for the first time identified school-based programs as an effective route to prevent psychotic experiences.”

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