BACKGROUND: Early detection programmes aim to reduce the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) by public education and by prompt access to treatment via active outreach detection teams. AIMS: To determine whether those with first-episode psychosis in an early detection healthcare area with existing referral channels differ from those who access care via detection teams. METHOD: Those with first-episode psychosis recruited via detection teams were compared with those accessing treatment via conventional channels, at baseline and after 3 months of acute treatment. RESULTS: Patients recruited via detection teams are younger males with a longer DUP, a less dramatic symptom picture and better functioning; however they recover more slowly, and have more symptoms at 3-month follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: After establishing low threshold active case-seeking detection teams, we found clear differences between those patients entering treatment via detection teams v. those obtaining treatment via the usual channels. Such profiling may be informative for early detection service development.
Early detection in first-episode psychosis confers advantages for negative, cognitive, and depressive symptoms after 1, 2, and 5 years, but longitudinal effects are unknown. The authors investigated the differences in symptoms and recovery after 10 years between regional health care sectors with and without a comprehensive program for the early detection of psychosis.
The authors evaluated 281 patients (early detection, N=141) 18 to 65 years old with a first episode of nonaffective psychosis between 1997 and 2001. Of these, 101 patients in the early-detection area and 73 patients in the usual-detection area were followed up at 10 years, and the authors compared their symptoms and recovery.
A significantly higher percentage of early-detection patients had recovered at the 10-year follow-up relative to usual-detection patients. This held true despite more severely ill patients dropping out of the study in the usual-detection area. Except for higher levels of excitative symptoms in the early-detection area, there were no symptom differences between the groups. Early-detection recovery rates were higher largely because of higher employment rates for patients in this group.
Early detection of first-episode psychosis appears to increase the chances of milder deficits and superior functioning. The mechanisms by which this strategy improves the long-term prognosis of psychosis remain speculative. Nevertheless, our findings over 10 years may indicate that a prognostic link exists between the timing of intervention and outcome that deserves additional study.
Comment In: Am J Psychiatry. 2012 Sep;169(9):992; author reply 992-322952080
Comment In: Am J Psychiatry. 2012 Apr;169(4):345-722476671