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Keywords:

  • duration of untreated psychosis;
  • early intervention;
  • incidence;
  • psychosis;
  • schizophrenia

Abstract

Aim

Early intervention (EI) services for psychosis aim to reduce the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) with intensive large-scale multi-focus initiatives, including public awareness campaigns. As a consequence of this approach, individuals with a very long DUP who might have otherwise remained undiagnosed may come to medical attention. The aim of this study was to investigate if an EI service detected additional cases of individuals with a first-episode psychosis (FEP) with a very long DUP and identify demographic and clinical characteristics associated with a very long DUP.

Methods

We compared the distribution of the DUP in cases with FEP in a cohort from an EI service in a geographically defined catchment area with a historical control group. Participants were interviewed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) diagnoses and the Beiser scale to determine the DUP.

Results

A total of 172 individuals were included in the EI service and 151 were included from the historical control. There was no difference in the distribution of the DUP in the EI service compared with the historical control group (χ2 = 3.77, degrees of freedom (d.f.) = 3, P = 0.29). In the EI service, 7.6% of cases had a DUP between 24 and 35.9 months compared to 3.3% in the historical control, and 13.4% of cases in the EI service had a DUP of greater than three years compared to 10.6% in the historical control. A very long DUP was associated with unemployment, less insight and involuntary treatment.

Conclusion

Further examination of the pathways to care in cases with a long DUP may clarify the contribution of help-seeking and health system delays for these individuals.