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The pathway to receiving specialty care for first episode psychosis (FEP) among Black youth in the US has received little attention despite documented challenges that negatively impact engagement in care and clinical outcomes. We conducted a systematic review of US-based research, reporting findings related to the pathway experiences of Black individuals with FEP and their family members. A systematic search of PubMed, PsycInfo, and Embase/Medline was performed with no date restrictions up to April 2021. Included studies had samples with at least 75% Black individuals and/or their family members or explicitly examined racial differences. Of the 80 abstracts screened, 28 peer-reviewed articles met the inclusion criteria. Studies were categorized into three categories: premordid and prodromal phase, help-seeking experiences, and the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP). Compounding factors such as trauma, substance use, and structural barriers that occur during the premorbid and prodromal contribute to delays in treatment initiation and highlight the limited use of services for traumatic childhood experiences (e.g., sexual abuse). Studies focused on help-seeking experiences demonstrated the limited use of mental health services and the potentially traumatic entry to services (e.g., law enforcement), which is associated with a longer DUP. Although the majority of studies focused on help-seeking experiences and predictors of DUP, findings suggests that for Black populations, there is a link between trauma and substance use in the pathway to care that impacts the severity of symptoms, initiation of treatment, and DUP. The present review also identifies the need for more representative studies of Black individuals with FEP.


This work was originally published in npj Schizophrenia, available at

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