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Journal Article

A transdiagnostic prodrome for severe mental disorders: an electronic health record study


Koutsouleris,  Nikolaos
Max Planck Fellow Group Precision Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;

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Arribas, M., Oliver, D., Patel, R., Kornblum, D., Shetty, H., Damiani, S., et al. (2024). A transdiagnostic prodrome for severe mental disorders: an electronic health record study. MOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY. doi:10.1038/s41380-024-02533-5.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000F-4CA8-F
Effective prevention of severe mental disorders (SMD), including non-psychotic unipolar mood disorders (UMD), non-psychotic bipolar mood disorders (BMD), and psychotic disorders (PSY), rely on accurate knowledge of the duration, first presentation, time course and transdiagnosticity of their prodromal stages. Here we present a retrospective, real-world, cohort study using electronic health records, adhering to RECORD guidelines. Natural language processing algorithms were used to extract monthly occurrences of 65 prodromal features (symptoms and substance use), grouped into eight prodromal clusters. The duration, first presentation, and transdiagnosticity of the prodrome were compared between SMD groups with one-way ANOVA, Cohen's f and d. The time course (mean occurrences) of prodromal clusters was compared between SMD groups with linear mixed-effects models. 26,975 individuals diagnosed with ICD-10 SMD were followed up for up to 12 years (UMD = 13,422; BMD = 2506; PSY = 11,047; median[IQR] age 39.8[23.7] years; 55% female; 52% white). The duration of the UMD prodrome (18[36] months) was shorter than BMD (26[35], d = 0.21) and PSY (24[38], d = 0.18). Most individuals presented with multiple first prodromal clusters, with the most common being non-specific ('other'; 88% UMD, 85% BMD, 78% PSY). The only first prodromal cluster that showed a medium-sized difference between the three SMD groups was positive symptoms (f = 0.30). Time course analysis showed an increase in prodromal cluster occurrences approaching SMD onset. Feature occurrence across the prodromal period showed small/negligible differences between SMD groups, suggesting that most features are transdiagnostic, except for positive symptoms (e.g. paranoia, f = 0.40). Taken together, our findings show minimal differences in the duration and first presentation of the SMD prodromes as recorded in secondary mental health care. All the prodromal clusters intensified as individuals approached SMD onset, and all the prodromal features other than positive symptoms are transdiagnostic. These results support proposals to develop transdiagnostic preventive services for affective and psychotic disorders detected in secondary mental healthcare.