Comparing the Clinical Presentation of First-Episode Psychosis Across Different Migrant and Ethnic Minority Groups in Montreal, Quebec

Elsje van der Ven, Francois Bourque, Ridha Joober, Jean-Paul Selten, Ashok K. Malla*

*Corresponding author for this work

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To explore differences in severity and nature of symptoms of first-episode psychosis (FEP) according to ethnic group and migrant status.We administered rating scales to assess positive and negative symptoms, as well as general psychopathology, to 301 consecutive patients presenting with an FEP within a defined catchment area in Montreal, Quebec, classified according to ethnicity and migrant status. Symptom scores of Euro-Canadian patients without a recent history of migration, that is, the reference group (n = 145), were compared with those of African and Afro-Caribbean (n = 39), Asian (n = 27), Central and South American (n = 15), Middle Eastern and North African (n = 24), and European and North American (n = 39) patients.Except for referral source, there were no significant differences between ethnic groups on any demographic variables. The African and Afro-Caribbean group had a higher level of negative symptoms (especially alogia) and general psychopathology scores on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (especially, uncooperativeness, preoccupation, and poor attention), compared with the reference group. Ethnic groups did not differ on the Scale for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms scores.A comparison of FEP patients from different ethnic groups and native-born Euro-Canadians revealed no significant differences in the nature of positive symptoms at first presentation or in age at onset, suggesting that there was no evidence for the hypothesis that ethnic minorities are misdiagnosed as psychotic. Increased severity of negative symptoms and general psychopathology, specifically among the black ethnic minority group, may have implications for the role of ethnicity for the treatment and outcome of the initial episode of psychotic disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-308
JournalCanadian Journal of Psychiatry-Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • ethnicity
  • psychosis
  • symptoms
  • schizophrenia
  • first episode
  • age at onset

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