During the last decades we have seen a new focus on early treatment of psychosis. Several reviews have shown that duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) is correlated to better outcome. However, it is still unknown whether early treatment will lead to a better long-term outcome. This study reports the effects of reducing DUP on 5-year course and outcome.
During 1997-2000 a total of 281 consecutive patients aged >17 years with first episode non-affective psychosis were recruited, of which 192 participated in the 5-year follow-up. A comprehensive early detection (ED) programme with public information campaigns and low-threshold psychosis detection teams was established in one healthcare area (ED-area), but not in a comparable area (no-ED area). Both areas ran equivalent treatment programmes during the first 2 years and need-adapted treatment thereafter.
At the start of treatment, ED-patients had shorter DUP and less symptoms than no-ED-patients. There were no significant differences in treatment (psychotherapy and medication) for the 5 years. Mixed-effects modelling showed better scores for the ED group on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale negative, depressive and cognitive factors and for global assessment of functioning for social functioning at 5-year follow-up. The ED group also had more contacts with friends. Regression analysis did not find that these differences could be explained by confounders.
Early treatment had positive effects on clinical and functional status at 5-year follow-up in first episode psychosis.
Some studies in first-episode schizophrenia correlate shorter duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) with better prognosis, suggesting that timing of treatment may be important. A three-site prospective clinical trial in Norway and Denmark is underway to investigate the effect of the timing of treatment in first-episode psychosis. One health care sector (Rogaland, Norway) is experimental and has developed an early detection (ED) system to reduce DUP. Two other sectors (Ullevål, Norway, and Roskilde, Denmark) are comparison sectors and rely on existing detection and referral systems for first-episode cases. The study ultimately will compare early detected with usual detected patients. This paper describes the study's major independent intervention variable, i.e. a comprehensive education and detection system to change DUP in first onset psychosis.System variables and first results from the four-year inclusion period (1997-2000) are described. It includes targeted information towards the general public, health professionals and schools, and ED teams to recruit appropriate patients into treatment as soon as possible. This plus easy access to psychiatric services via ED teams systematically changed referral patterns of first-episode schizophrenia. DUP was reduced by 1.5 years (mean) from before the time the ED system was instituted (to 0.5 years). The ED strategies appear to be effective and to influence directly the community's help-seeking behaviour.
To identify predictors of non-remission in first-episode, non-affective psychosis.
During 4 years, we recruited 301 patients consecutively. Information about first remission at 3 months was available for 299 and at 2 years for 293 cases. Symptomatic and social outcomes were assessed at 3 months, 1 and 2 years.
One hundred and twenty-nine patients (43%) remained psychotic at 3 months and 48 patients (16.4%) remained psychotic over 2 years. When we compared premorbid and baseline data for the three groups, the non-remitted (n = 48), remitted for