INTRODUCTION: Our current ability to predict the course and outcome of early psychotic symptoms is limited, hampering timely treatment. To improve our understanding of the development of psychosis, a different approach to psychopathology may be productive. We propose to reconceptualise psychopathology from a network perspective, according to which symptoms act as a dynamic, interconnected system, impacting on each other over time and across diagnostic boundaries to form symptom networks. Adopting this network approach, the Mapping Individual Routes of Risk and Resilience study aims to determine whether characteristics of symptom networks can predict illness course and outcome of early psychotic symptoms.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The sample consists of n=100 participants aged 18-35 years, divided into four subgroups (n=4×25) with increasing levels of severity of psychopathology, representing successive stages of clinical progression. Individuals representing the initial stage have a relatively low expression of psychotic experiences (general population), whereas individuals representing the end stage are help seeking and display a psychometric expression of psychosis, putting them at ultra-high risk for transition to psychotic disorder. At baseline and 1-year follow-up, participants report their symptoms, affective states and experiences for three consecutive months in short, daily questionnaires on their smartphone, which will be used to map individual networks. Network parameters, including the strength and directionality of symptom connections and centrality indices, will be estimated and associated to individual differences in and within-individual progression through stages of clinical severity and functioning over the next 3 years.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The study has been approved by the local medical ethical committee (ABR no. NL52974.042.15). The results of the study will be published in (inter)national peer-reviewed journals, presented at research, clinical and general public conferences. The results will assist in improving and fine-tuning dynamic models of psychopathology, stimulating both clinical and scientific progress.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NTR6205 ; Pre-results.