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Neurobiology Youth Follow-up Study: Protocol to establish a longitudinal and prospective research database using multimodal assessments for current and past mental health treatment-seeking young people within an early intervention service

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Jan Scott



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.Introduction Approximately 75% of major mental illness occurs before the age of 25 years. Despite this, our capacity to provide effective, early and personalised interventions is limited by insufficient evidence for characterising early-stage, and less specific, presentations of major mental disorders in youth populations. This article describes the protocol for setting up a large-scale database that will collect longitudinal, prospective data that incorporate clinical, social and occupational function, neuropsychological, circadian, metabolic, family history and genetic metrics. By collecting data in a research-purposed, standardised manner, the 'Neurobiology Youth Follow-up Study' should improve identification, characterisation and profiling of youth attending mental healthcare, to better inform diagnosis and treatment at critical time points. The overall goal is enhanced long-term clinical and functional outcomes. Methods and analysis This longitudinal clinical cohort study will invite participation from youth (12-30 years) who seek help for mental health-related issues at an early intervention service (headspace Camperdown) and linked services. Participants will be prospectively tracked over 3 years with a series of standardised multimodal assessments at baseline, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months. Evaluations will include: (1) clinician-administered and self-report assessments determining clinical stage, pathophysiological pathways to illness, diagnosis, symptomatology, social and occupational function; (2) neuropsychological profile; (3) sleep-wake patterns and circadian rhythms; (4) metabolic markers and (5) genetics. These data will be used to: (1) model the impact of demographic, phenomenological and treatment variables, on clinical and functional outcomes; (2) map neurobiological profiles and changes onto a transdiagnostic clinical stage and pathophysiological mechanisms framework. Ethics and dissemination This study protocol has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Sydney Local Health District (2020/ETH01272, protocol V.1.3, 14 October 2020). Research findings will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and presentations at scientific conferences and to user and advocacy groups. Participant data will be de-identified.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nichles A, Zmicerevska N, Song YJC, Wilson C, McHugh C, Hamilton B, Crouse J, Rohleder C, Carpenter JS, Ho N, Hermens DF, Wray N, Scott J, Merikangas KR, Leweke FM, Koethe D, Iorfino F, Naismith SL, Guastella AJ, Scott EM, Hickie IB

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2021

Volume: 11

Issue: 6

Online publication date: 18/06/2021

Acceptance date: 21/05/2021

Date deposited: 07/07/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044731

PubMed id: 34145010


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