In the US, Black people diagnosed with schizophrenia experience worse psychosocial and clinical outcomes than their White counterparts. While racism-related factors contribute to these disparities, an additional understudied explanation may be that psychosocial treatments for psychotic disorders are less effective for Black than White individuals. The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which best treatment practices for first-episode psychosis (FEP) are effective for Black and White participants.
We conducted a secondary data analysis of the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode Early Treatment Program (RAISE-ETP), a two-year multisite trial that compared a coordinated specialty care intervention for FEP (NAVIGATE) to community care as usual (CC) in 34 sites across the US. Specifically, we compared interviewer-rated quality of life and symptoms, as well as self-reported mental health and stigma, between 139 Non-Latinx Black and 172 Non-Latinx White participants with FEP in NAVIGATE and CC.
We found few differences between Black and White participants over two-year outcomes, either overall or in terms of benefit from NAVIGATE. Across both treatment conditions, Black participants improved less than White participants on positive symptoms, an effect driven primarily by suspiciousness/persecution. In NAVIGATE, self-reported mental health stigma decreased for both Black and White participants, while in CC stigma decreased for White participants but increased for Black participants. This effect was driven primarily by experienced stigma rather than self-stigma.
NAVIGATE benefits both Black and White individuals diagnosed with FEP. Mental health stigma and positive symptoms may be particularly important aspects of treatment for Black individuals diagnosed with FEP.