Background The current study examines teacher ratings as a tool for identifying students at risk of developing psychosis. Follow-up and follow-back studies have shown that teachers are capable of identifying individuals who later develop serious mental illness.
Method We examine the long-term outcomes for individuals at genetic risk who were identified as showing markedly deviant behaviour and those identified who did not show markedly deviant behaviour.
Results Teachers were able to correctly anticipate 35% of students who developed schizophrenia. Furthermore, those identified as showing markedly deviant behaviour had poorer clinical and psychiatric outcomes 10 and 25 years later than those identified as not behaving with marked deviance. Their ratings also differentiated, within the group of people with schizophrenia, which individuals would show evidence of poorer functioning 25 years later. These results were replicated in a group of students not at genetic risk of schizophrenia. Within this low-risk group, teachers were able to predict which students would develop psychotic disorders.
Conclusions Teacher ratings were particularly useful in predicting clinical and psychiatric outcomes 10 and 25 years later. The applicability of these findings in early intervention and treatment research is discussed.