Self-stigma, religiosity, and perceived social support in people with recent-onset psychosis in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Associations with symptom severity and psychosocial functioning

M. Djordjevic, S. Farhang*, M. Shirzadi, S. B. Mousavi, R. Bruggeman, A. Malek, A. Mohagheghi, F. Ranjbar, A. R. Shafiee-Kandjani, H. E. Jongsma, W. Veling

*Corresponding author for this work

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Aims: Most evidence on psychosocial factors in recent-onset psychosis comes from high-income countries in Europe, Australia, Canada and the USA, while these factors are likely to differ under varying sociocultural and economic circumstances. In this study, we aimed to investigate associations of self-stigma, religiosity and perceived social support with symptom severity and psychosocial functioning in an Iranian cohort of people with recent-onset psychosis (i.e. illness duration of <2 years). 

Methods: We used baseline data of 361 participants (N = 286 [74%] male, mean age = 34 years [Standard Deviation = 10.0]) from the Iranian Azeri Recent-onset Acute Phase Psychosis Survey (ARAS). We included assessments of self-stigma (Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness, ISMI), religiosity (based on Stark & Glock), perceived social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, MSPSS), symptom severity (Positive And Negative Syndrome Scale, PANSS) and psychosocial functioning (clinician-rated Global Assessment of Functioning Scale, GAF, and self-reported World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0, WHODAS 2.0). Descriptive analyses were employed to characterize the study sample. Covariate-adjusted ordinal and multivariable linear regression analyses were performed to investigate cross-sectional associations of baseline ISMI, religiosity and MSPSS with concurrent PANSS, GAF and WHODAS 2.0. 

Results: Higher self-stigma was associated with poorer self-reported functioning (B = 0.375 [95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.186, 0.564]) and more severe concurrent symptoms (B = 0.436 [95% CI: 0.275, 0.597]). Being more religious was associated with poorer clinician-rated functioning (OR = 0.967 [95% CI: 0.944, 0.991]), but with less severe symptoms (B = −0.258 [95% CI: −0.427, −0.088]). Stronger social support was associated with poorer clinician-rated (OR = 0.956 [95% CI: 0.935, 0.978]) and self-reported functioning (B = 0.337 [95% CI: 0.168, 0.507]). 

Conclusion: This study shows that self-stigma, religiosity and perceived social support were associated with symptom severity and clinician-rated as well as self-reported psychosocial functioning in an Iranian cohort of people with recent-onset psychosis. The findings extend previous evidence on these psychosocial factors to one of the largest countries in the Middle East, and suggest that it may be worthwhile to develop strategies aimed at tackling stigma around psychosis and integrate the role of religiosity and social support in mental ill-health prevention and therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of social psychiatry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5-Feb-2024


  • First episode psychosis
  • religiosity
  • self-stigma
  • social support

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