Washington University School of Medicine

Research (Active, Non-Enrolling)

Kenya Risk Study

This study is being done in collaboration with the Africa Mental Health Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya. It is part of an effort to develop longitudinal research projects to study the development and progression of psychosis-risk traits in sub-Saharan Africa. It focuses on evaluating adolescents and young adults who are at risk for developing a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia in regions around Nairobi, Kenya.

Previously, we conducted youth focus groups in Kenya assessing the usability of a structured interview for evaluating clinical risk symptoms for developing psychotic disorders. We recruited and trained local research workers in administering structured instruments for identification of risk symptoms, and have conducted community youth assessments using these instruments in Kibera, Kenya. The current study focuses on capacity building and training of local mental health personnel on the use of standardized diagnostic, neurocognitive, neurological and anthropological assessment in Machakos, Kenya.

The specific aims of this study are to:

  1. Characterize the clinical, neurocognitive, neurologic, and anthropometric profiles of high-risk secondary school students in Machakos, Kenya (13-21 yrs) and compare these to low risk students.
  2. Evaluate the progression of symptoms in high-risk youth for up to 20 months, identify the rate of transition to psychotic disorders and identify traits indicating progression towards psychotic disorders

The study hopes to also identify and address potential challenges to longitudinal studies in Africa, assess research capacity, and strengthen local research through training, career development and mentoring. These efforts are expected to have a long-term impact in advancing independent and collaborative mental health research, as well as clinical care in Kenya.