Although violent behaviour has been studied in schizophrenia, violence risk has received little attention in individuals at clinical high risk for psychosis (CHR). This manuscript aims to report and discuss the overall results of the Structured Assessment for Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) from the NAPLS-3 project to explore the risk of violence in CHR youth and to determine the relationship between SAVRY violence risk scores, psychosis risk symptoms, and global functioning. We hypothesized that CHR young people are at higher risk of violence as compared to healthy comparison participants due to a similarity between risk factors for psychosis and risk factors for violence, and that this risk is associated with greater severity of symptoms, poor functioning, and risk for conversion to psychosis.
Participants from the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study consortium phase 3 (NAPLS-3) included 684 CHR and 96 HC. Assessments included the Structural Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY), clinical and functional measures.
The majority of participants across groups were deemed to be at low risk for violence. There were significantly more CHR participants (29.8%) who had moderate or high scores on the SAVRY Summary Risk Rating compared to HC participants (3.1%). Low versus moderate-high SAVRY scores were associated with better social (p < .005) and role (p < .002) functioning and fewer positive (p < .002), negative (p < .002), disorganized (p < .01) and general symptoms (p < .002). CHR participants with higher SAVRY scores were more likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, ADHD and substance misuse. Among CHR, overall violence risk was not associated with conversion to psychosis. However, those who converted to psychosis scored lower on the protective factors index, primarily driven by less prosocial involvement and fewer resilient personality traits.
This is the first study to assess violence risk in CHR adolescents. Violence risk factors overlap with risk factors for psychosis in general, perhaps accounting for the association. These findings have implications for intervention efforts to reduce violence risk and bolster resiliency in CHR youth.