Researchers at the University of Ibadan in collaboration with those at King’s College London, in the United Kingdom (UK) have revealed that rates of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia in Ibadan were higher than expected.
Their position is based on the findings of a large-scale international project now investigating risk factors and health needs associated with the disorder.
Almost 90 per cent of the cases of psychosis identified by the study team in Ibadan received a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
The researchers also found that the majority of people with psychotic disorders were accessing care through traditional healers, and a third had never been in contact with a health professional.
The study was released to coincide with the World Schizophrenia Day, which is marked on May 24 every year. It aims to bring awareness about schizophrenia and reduce stigma towards people affected by this mental disorder.
However, the majority of research on schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders has been conducted in North America, Western Europe or Australasia, leaving Nigeria with little accurate information about these conditions in the rest of the world.
Psychotic disorders are conditions in which people experience symptoms such as hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) and false thoughts or beliefs (delusions). These disorders usually begin at a young age, when people are in their twenties, and can cause long term distress and disability.
This constitutes the most up-to-date information on how common psychosis is locally, and such evidence is essential for evidence-based policy and service-planning to address these conditions.
This high-profile international study, funded by the UK Medical Research Council, was led by Professor Oye Gureje and Professor Craig Morgan, in collaboration with international partners at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and the Schizophrenia Research Foundation in India.
Now, the same researchers aim to uncover the risk factors that lead to psychosis in Oyo State and explore the health needs of people suffering this disorder in order to develop better services and public health strategies.
This novel study, called INTREPID II (INTernational REsearch Programme on Psychoses In Diverse settings), will also be conducted in sites in India and Trinidad, making it not only one of the largest studies of its kind, but also ground-breaking in its intention to understand psychosis on a global scale.
INTREPID II will follow up these findings in more detail. The research team are now investigating risk factors for psychosis, such as childhood trauma or cannabis use.
, as well as aiming to understand how the condition affects people’s lives, which factors support recovery, and assessing the physical health needs of people with psychosis. Prof. Gureje said: “This is an important attempt for us to know about this very serious and debilitating mental illness that predominantly starts in young age, thereby disrupting the completion of education, starting a career or establishing a lifelong partnership. Often, especially at the onset, when the disturbing symptoms start, such as hearing of voices, the sufferer may consider ending their torment by taking their own life”.
With one year of data collection recently completed, the first results from INTREPID II will be released in summer 2020, taking us one step closer to a truly global understanding of schizophrenia and other psychoses.
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