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Background: College campuses are hubs for individuals at an age of increased risk of early psychosis. This study aimed to determine the feasibility of an early detection (ED) program that would: identify college students at risk for early psychosis, and link them to appropriate coordinated specialty care (CSC). Research has shown the earlier the detection of psychosis, the better the outcomes.

Methods: On August 1st, 2020, UNM Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) implemented the Prodromal Questionnaire Brief (PQ-B) during triage to screen for early psychosis among students seeking mental health services. Several process outcomes were tracked, including the number of: (1) PQ-B’s completed, (2) students who met the cut-off score, (3) referrals to CSC, (4) students who completed a phone screen and clinical assessment, and (5) students enrolled in CSC. Demographics of those who completed the PQ-B (i.e., age, gender, ethnicity) were also collected.

Results: Between August 1st 2020 and September 30th, 2021, 1,096 students completed the PQ-B. The majority of students were female (62%), white-non-Hispanic (43%), with an average age of 24.40±6.59 years. Of the 1,096 students screened, 334 met the cut-off of ≥20. 160 students were referred for and completed a phone screen, 71 were referred to CSC for a structured clinical assessment and 18 were enrolled. Of the 1,096 students screened for psychosis, 18 (1.6%) met criteria for enrollment in coordinated specialty care services.

Discussion: Implementing the PQ-B at a college counseling center has identified a small number of students who meet criteria for CSC. While many of the PQ-B referrals turned out to be “false positives”, the early detection program captured 18 students who may not have been identified and linked to CSC until later on. Given the benefits of identifying psychosis as early as possible, further research on the implementation of ED programs is necessary.


Funding: Research reported in this presentation was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under award number R34MH120777.

Non-expert Summary

People in college are generally at an age of increased risk of first episode psychosis (FEP) which has better outcomes when caught early. UNM Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) implemented an early psychosis screening tool to link eligible students to appropriate screening and treatment and it identified a small number of cases. We discovered several implementation challenges in this project including a leaky referral pipeline, shifting to operations during remote services and counselor buy-in.



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