At-risk mental state (ARMS) detection in a community service center for early attention to psychosis in Barcelona


Professor Jorge L. Tizón, Institut Català de la Salut [Catalan Health Institute], Equip d'Atenció Precoç als Pacients en risc de Psicosis (EAPPP) [Early Care Equipment for At-Risk of Psychosis Patients], Córcega 544, bajos, 08025 Barcelona, Spain. Email:


Aim: To describe the strategy and some results in at-risk mental state (ARMS) patient detection as well as some of the ARMS clinical and socio-demographical characteristics. The subjects were selected among the patients visited by an Early Care Equipment for patients at high risk of psychoses, in Barcelona (Spain) during its first year in operation.

Methods: Descriptive study of the community–team relations, selection criteria and intervention procedure. Description of patient's socio-demographic and symptomatic characteristics according to the different instruments used in detection and diagnoses, taking account of four principal origins of referrals: mental health services, primary care services, education services and social services.

Results: Twenty of 55 referred people fulfilled the at-risk mental state criteria, showing an incidence of 2.4 cases per 10 000 inhabitants. They were mainly adolescent males referred from health, education and social services. Overall, negative symptoms were predominant symptoms and the more frequent specific symptoms were decrease of motivation and poor work and school performance, decreased ability to maintain or initiate social relationships, depressed mood and withdrawal.

Conclusions: It is possible to detect and to provide early treatment to patients with prodromal symptoms if the whole matrix of the community – including the social services – contributes to the process. The utilization of a screening instrument and a two-phase strategy – the second carried out by the specialized team – seems to be an appropriate approach for early psychosis and ARMS detection.