Cultural Considerations in the Treatment of African American Youth with Attenuated Psychosis Syndromes: The Importance of Socio-contextual and Clinical Factors

  • Derek M. NovacekEmail author
  • Allison M. LoPilato
  • Katrina B. Goines
  • Hanan D. Trotman
  • Michael T. Compton
  • Elaine F. Walker


The identification and treatment of youth at risk for the development of psychotic disorders is a current priority in the mental health field, given the potential to prevent or mitigate negative outcomes. Although there are no established standards for preventive intervention for psychosis, the issue is receiving increasing attention from clinical researchers. Research findings in the United States suggest that African Americans experience higher rates of psychosis, exhibit more severe positive symptoms, and experience different pathways to care compared to Caucasian individuals. Current theoretical conceptualizations postulate that greater exposure to discrimination, social disadvantage, and other forms of stress contribute to elevated rates of psychosis among African Americans. Despite established differences among racial/ethnic groups in cultural values, beliefs, help-seeking behaviors, pathways to care, and treatment preferences, culturally adapted interventions to treat African American youth at risk for psychosis have not been developed. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the key socio-contextual and clinical factors that mental health providers should consider when assessing and treating African American youth experiencing attenuated psychosis syndromes. Based on our discussion, we provide specific recommendations for clinicians working with this population, as well as future directions for research to continue to investigate causal mechanisms and develop culturally sensitive interventions.


African Americans Attenuated psychosis syndromes Psychosis Race/ethnicity Culture Treatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek M. Novacek
    • 1
    Email author
  • Allison M. LoPilato
    • 2
  • Katrina B. Goines
    • 1
  • Hanan D. Trotman
    • 3
  • Michael T. Compton
    • 4
  • Elaine F. Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Emory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyMercer UniversityMaconUSA
  4. 4.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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