Stress sensitivity and social dysfunction in adolescents at risk for psychosis: An ambulatory assessment study

Poster B61, Tuesday, October 9, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Leslie Horton1, Gretchen Haas1,2, Miranda Bridgwater1; 1University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 2VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

Despite abundant empirical evidence that social dysfunction and stress sensitivity are key markers for predicting the onset of psychosis, less is known about the timing, progression, and co-occurrence of these experiences among adolescents at risk for psychosis. Current methods for examining experiences of people at risk for psychosis in adolescence should be enhanced with the addition of ambulatory assessment, also known as ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Ambulatory assessment is ideal for: 1) understanding behavior in the real world beyond the laboratory, and 2) capturing subtle-day-to-day fluctuations in behaviors and symptoms that may be less evident from other measurement methods. The current project examined social functioning, physiologic indices of stress sensitivity, and clinical symptoms in a sample of 40 adolescents ages 13-19 at clinical and/or familial risk for psychosis (HR; n = 20) compared to typical adolescents matched for age and sex (n = 20). Participants completed laboratory-based self-report instruments, clinical interviews, and an assessment of heart rate variability while completing the Trier Social Stress Test. Following this visit, participants completed 9 days (3 consecutive weekends) of ambulatory assessment on study smartphones. Compared to controls, HR adolescents evidenced a pattern of stress response dysregulation, affective disruptions, and social dysfunction both in the laboratory and in daily life. These results should help to identify indicators of dysregulation during the prodromal period of psychosis; these findings could lead to improved identification of people at risk for schizophrenia and related disorders, and to better targets for monitoring and interventions to prevent these disorders.

Topic Area: Stress Responsivity

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