Epidemiology and Biostatistics Publications

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Archives of Women's Mental Health





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Primary care is an important part of the help-seeking pathway for young people experiencing early psychosis, but sex differences in clinical presentation in these settings are unexplored. We aimed to identify sex differences in clinical presentation to primary care services in the 1-year period prior to a first diagnosis of psychotic disorder. We identified first-onset cases of non-affective psychotic disorder over a 10-year period (2005-2015) using health administrative data linked with electronic medical records (EMRs) from primary care (n = 465). Detailed information on encounters in the year prior to first diagnosis was abstracted, including psychiatric symptoms, other relevant behaviours, and diagnoses recorded by the family physician (FP). We used modified Poisson regression models to examine sex differences in the signs, symptoms, and diagnoses recorded by the FP, adjusting for various clinical and sociodemographic factors. Positive symptoms (PR = 0.76, 95%CI: 0.58, 0.98) and substance use (PR = 0.54, 95%CI: 0.40, 0.72) were less prevalent in the medical records of women. Visits by women were more likely to be assigned a diagnosis of depression or anxiety (PR = 1.18, 95%CI: 1.00, 1.38), personality disorder (PR = 5.49, 95%CI: 1.22, 24.62), psychological distress (PR = 11.29, 95%CI: 1.23, 103.91), and other mental or behavioral disorders (PR = 3.49, 95%CI: 1.14, 10.66) and less likely to be assigned a diagnosis of addiction (PR = 0.33, 95%CI: 0.13, 0.87). We identified evidence of sex differences in the clinical presentation of early psychosis and recorded diagnoses in the primary care EMR. Further research is needed to better understand sex differences in clinical presentation in the primary care context, which can facilitate better understanding, detection, and intervention for first-episode psychotic disorders.


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 https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-023-01329-w.

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