High-risk sexual behaviours in young people experiencing a first episode of psychosis

Ellie Brown, Emily Castagnini, Alison Langstone, Nathan Mifsud, Caroline Gao, Patrick McGorry, Eoin Killackey, Brian O'Donoghue

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: The sexual health of adults with schizophrenia is poorer than the general population; however, less is known about young people experiencing a first episode of psychosis (FEP). The aim of this study was to explore the high-risk sexual behaviours and sexual well-being indicators of a cohort of young people with FEP. Methods: Data collected from young people (15-24 years) with FEP attending the EPPIC service in Melbourne and participating in a physical health intervention were analysed. Baseline trial data collected on sexual health and high-risk behaviours, psychiatric symptomology, functioning, and substance use are presented by gender. Associations between symptomology and functioning with sexual behaviour are explored. Results: A total of 69 young people were included in this study; mean age was 19.6 years (SD±2.8), 53.6% were male, 59.6% identified as heterosexual, and 21.7% were currently in a relationship. Within the cohort, 78.3% had ever been sexually active. Of these, 44.2% consistently used a condom at last sex act and 35.7% used barrier contraception consistently, 22.5% had previously been pregnant, and 18.6% had tested positive for an STI. Finally, young people were more likely to have been sexually active if they were currently using substances. Conclusions: These findings suggest that high rates of high-risk sexual behaviour remain an issue for young people experiencing a first episode of psychosis. Promoting sexual well-being and communication skills between sexual partners should be targeted to ensure that high-risk sexual health outcomes are mitigated as early as possible.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • early intervention
  • early psychosis
  • physical health
  • sexual health

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