Associations between Early Trauma and Clinical High Risk of Psychosis Symptoms

Gi Yi Ho, BS Candidate

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center – Research Assistant
HO_GI_YI poster

Scientific Abstract

Background: Previous research has shown a correlation between individuals who have experienced early trauma and their experience of clinical high risk of psychosis (CHR-p) symptoms. Particular CHR-p symptoms are also shown to be correlated with patients’ history or exposure to trauma. Comorbidity analyses have also demonstrated high co-morbidity rates between risk for psychosis and early trauma. This study sought to understand the relationship between the severity of early trauma and particular CHR-p symptoms in our clinic’s young patient sample. We hypothesized that positive attenuated symptoms are associated with the severity of early trauma in a CHR-p sample; and that if early trauma and positive symptoms of psychosis are correlated, then hallucinations and delusions are also correlated with reported trauma severity.

Methods: This study examined 99 clients, ages 12-25, who indicated a need to assess for CHR-p symptoms at CEDAR were obtained from baseline assessments routinely conducted as part of the clinical practice. The sample pool was redefined from childhood trauma to early trauma due to restrictions from our clinical data. Client data was explore using the Structured Interview for Psychosis-Risk Syndromes (SIPS) and the Child and Adolescent Trauma Screen (CATS). This study particularly examined the P1 symptom of unusual thought content, the P2 symptom of suspiciousness, and the P4 symptom of perceptual abnormalities on the SIPS, based on their association with early trauma corroborated by literature. ANOVA was then used to determine the correlation between certain SIPS symptoms and early trauma and linear regressions were examined the degree to which they were correlated (p <0.05%). 

Results: Suspiciousness and persecutory ideas were found to be the strongly correlated to the severity of early trauma (p=0.000). Moderately, unusual thought content and delusional ideas were found to be associated with the severity of early trauma (p=0.040). In general, positive symptoms of psychosis were found to be correlated with the severity of early trauma (p=0.020). Hallucinations were found not significantly correlated with the severity of early trauma (p=0.230). These results suggest a high correlation between CHR-p symptoms and early trauma, while underlining trauma severity does not heavily impact perceptual abnormalities but rather influences internal thoughts and ideas. 

Conclusions: These research findings could inform an adjusted perspective of the correlative relationship between trauma and CHR-p and demonstrate the need for trauma-informed care. It is also suggested that it may be clinically helpful in recognizing individuals who express CHR-p symptoms on the SIPS may be signaling those symptoms because of trauma rather than a psychotic illness. The nuances between perceptual hallucinations and thoughts changes in traumatized CHR-p individuals will require further research. By further exploring the differences between suspiciousness and paranoia in trauma or psychotic syndromes, it may better inform clinicians in evaluating and treating CHR-p clients with diagnosed or exposure to trauma.

Live Zoom Session – March 9th

research Areas


Gi Yi Ho, Michelle Friedman-Yakoobian, PhD, James Green, BA

Principal Investigator

Michelle Friedman-Yakoobian, PhD