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Cannabis use and psychotic disorders in diverse settings in the Global South: findings from INTREPID II.

BACKGROUND: Cannabis use has been linked to psychotic disorders but this association has been primarily observed in the Global North. This study investigates patterns of cannabis use and associations with psychoses in three Global South (regions within Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oceania) settings.

METHODS: Case-control study within the International Programme of Research on Psychotic Disorders (INTREPID) II conducted between May 2018 and September 2020. In each setting, we recruited over 200 individuals with an untreated psychosis and individually-matched controls (Kancheepuram India; Ibadan, Nigeria; northern Trinidad). Controls, with no past or current psychotic disorder, were individually-matched to cases by 5-year age group, sex and neighbourhood. Presence of psychotic disorder assessed using the Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry and cannabis exposure measured by the World Health Organisation Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST).

RESULTS: Cases reported higher lifetime and frequent cannabis use than controls in each setting. In Trinidad, cannabis use was associated with increased odds of psychotic disorder: lifetime cannabis use (adj. OR 1.58, 95% CI 0.99-2.53); frequent cannabis use (adj. OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.10-3.60); cannabis dependency (as measured by high ASSIST score) (adj. OR 4.70, 95% CI 1.77-12.47), early age of first use (adj. OR 1.83, 95% CI 1.03-3.27). Cannabis use in the other two settings was too rare to examine associations.

CONCLUSIONS: In line with previous studies, we found associations between cannabis use and the occurrence and age of onset of psychoses in Trinidad. These findings have implications for strategies for prevention of psychosis.

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