Objective: This random-controlled study evaluated benefits derived from continued integrated biomedical and psychosocial treatment for recent-onset schizophrenia.
Method: Fifty cases of schizophrenia of less than 2 years duration were allocated randomly to integrated or standard treatment (ST) for 2 years. ST comprised optimal pharmacotherapy and case management, while IT also included cognitive-behavioural family treatment, that incorporated skills training, cognitive-behavioural strategies for residual psychotic and non-psychotic problems and home-based crisis management. Psychopathology, functioning, hospitalisation and suicidal behaviours were assessed two monthly and a composite index, reflecting overall clinical outcome was derived.
Results: IC proved superior to ST in reducing negative symptoms, minor psychotic episodes and in stabilising positive symptoms, but did not reduce hospital admissions or major psychotic recurrences. The composite index showed that significantly more IC patients (53%) had excellent 2-year outcomes than ST (25%).
Conclusion: Evidence-based treatment achieves greater clinical benefits than pharmacotherapy and case management alone for recent-onset schizophrenia.