Prodromal psychotic symptoms and psychological distress among secondary school students in Abeokuta, Nigeria.


Objective: This study aimed to investigate the relationship between prodromal psychotic symptoms and psychological distress among Nigerian adolescents. Method: Students (n=508) were randomly selected from secondary schools in Abeokuta, Nigeria. A socio-demographic questionnaire, the Prodromal Questionnaire-Brief Version (PQ-B) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) were administered to each student.Results: The mean age of the students was 15.4 years (SD 1.3), with most (63%) being female. More than half (55.3%) reported having had a lifetime experience of major life event (20.9% in the preceding 6 months) while 13.9% had experienced bullying or abuse (5.1% in the preceding 6 months). The prevalence of prodromal symptoms was 20.9% (95% CI 0.174-0.244). Abnormal scores in emotional and conduct problems were seen in 11.8% and 6% respectively, while 7.3% had abnormal scores in each of the hyperactivity and peer problems subscales of the SDQ. Abnormality in prosocial behaviour was found in 1.8% of students, with overall abnormality in 4.9%. Regression analysis showed that prodromal symptoms were predicted by female sex, lifetime and 6 month history of major life event, and lifetime and 6 month history of bullying or abuse. Prodromal symptoms were also predicted by higher total SDQ scores and higher scores in all domains of psychological distress except the prosocial domain. Conclusion: The study showed a relationship between reported prodromal symptoms and the occurrence of psychological distress. It also showed that early childhood trauma may be a predisposing factor to the early stages of development of psychosis, with female children being especially prone in the years of adolescence.