Epidemiology and Biostatistics Publications

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Archives of Women's Mental Health





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First-episode psychosis (FEP) can be quite variable in clinical presentation, and both sex and gender may account for some of this variability. Prior literature on sex or gender differences in symptoms of psychosis have been inconclusive, and a comprehensive summary of evidence on the early course of illness is lacking. The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature to summarize prior evidence on the sex and gender differences in the symptoms of early psychosis. We conducted an electronic database search (MEDLINE, Scopus, PsycINFO, and CINAHL) from 1990 to present to identify quantitative studies focused on sex or gender differences in the symptoms of early psychosis. We used random effects models to compute pooled standardized mean differences (SMD) and risk ratios (RR), with 95% confidence intervals (CI), for a range of symptoms. Thirty-five studies met the inclusion criteria for the systematic review, and 30 studies were included in the meta-analysis. All studies examined sex differences. Men experienced more severe negative symptoms (SMD =  - 0.15, 95%CI =  - 0.21, - 0.09), whereas women experienced more severe depressive symptoms (SMD = 0.21, 95%CI = 0.14, 0.27) and had higher functioning (SMD = 0.16, 95%CI = 0.10, 0.23). Women also had a lower prevalence of substance use issues (RR = 0.65, 95%CI = 0.61, 0.69). Symptoms of early psychosis varied between men and women; however, we were limited in our ability to differentiate between biological sex and gender factors. These findings may help to inform early detection and intervention efforts to better account for sex and gender differences in early psychosis presentation.


This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00737-022-01247-3

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License