Background. Research mostly conducted in the UK and northern Europe has established that there are high rates of first-episode psychosis (FEP) in large cities and immigrant populations; moreover, psychosis has been found to be associated with cannabis use and early trauma. The present study aimed to evaluate the incidence rate of FEP and the distribution of several risk factors (e. g. age, ethnicity, substance abuse) in Bologna, Italy.
Method. The Bologna FEP (BoFEP) study is an 8-year prospective study. All FEP patients, 18-64 years old, consecutively referred to the West Bologna Community Mental Health Centre (CMHC) from 2002 to 2009 were evaluated. Sociodemographic information, migration history and clinical data were collected through an ad-hoc schedule. Psychiatric diagnoses were recorded using the Schedule for Clinical Assessment of Neuropsychiatry (SCAN).
Results. The overall incidence rate (IR) in the BoFEP study was 16.4 per 100 000 person-years [95% confidence interval (CI) 13.9-18.9]. The incidence was higher in young people, men and migrants (MI).
Conclusions. The IR of FEP found by the Bologna study is lower than that found by other European studies. However, as in other studies, the incidence was higher in certain groups. This heterogeneity has implications for policy and mental health service development, and for understanding the aetiology of psychosis.