Identifying patients at risk of poor outcome at an early stage of illness can aid in treatment planning. This study sought to create a best-fit statistical model of known baseline and early-course risk factors to predict time in psychosis during a ten-year follow-up period after a first psychotic episode.
Between 1997 and 2000, 301 patients with DSM-IV nonorganic, nonaffective first-episode psychosis were recruited consecutively from catchment area-based sectors in Norway and Denmark. Specialized mental health personnel evaluated patients at baseline, three months, and one, two, five, and ten years (N=186 at ten years). Time in psychosis was defined as time with scores =4 on any of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale items P1, P3, P5, P6, and G9. Evaluations were retrospective, based on clinical interviews and all available clinical information. During the first two years, patients were also evaluated by their clinicians at least biweekly. Baseline and early-course predictors of long-term course were identified with linear mixed-model analyses.
Four variables provided significant, additive predictions of longer time in psychosis during the ten-year follow-up: deterioration in premorbid social functioning, duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) of =26 weeks, core schizophrenia spectrum disorder, and no remission within three months.
First-episode psychosis patients should be followed carefully after the start of treatment. If symptoms do not remit within three months with adequate treatment, there is a considerable risk of a poor long-term outcome, particularly for patients with a deterioration in premorbid social functioning, a DUP of at least half a year, and a diagnosis within the core schizophrenia spectrum.
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
First episode psychosis (FEP) patients have an increased risk for violence and criminal activity prior to initial treatment. However, little is known about the prevalence of criminality and acts of violence many years after implementation of treatment for a first episode psychosis.
To assess the prevalence of criminal and violent behaviors during a 10-year follow-up period after the debut of a first psychosis episode, and to identify early predictors and concomitant risk factors of violent behavior.
A prospective design was used with comprehensive assessments of criminal behavior, drug abuse, clinical, social and treatment variables at baseline, five, and 10-year follow-up. Additionally, threatening and violent behavior was assessed at 10-year follow-up. A clinical epidemiological sample of first-episode psychosis patients (n=178) was studied.
During the 10-year follow-up period, 20% of subjects had been apprehended or incarcerated. At 10-year follow-up, 15% of subjects had exposed others to threats or violence during the year before assessment. Illegal drug use at baseline and five-year follow-up, and a longer duration of psychotic symptoms were found to be predictive of violent behavior during the year preceding the 10-year follow-up.
After treatment initiation, the overall prevalence of violence in psychotic patients drops gradually to rates close to those of the general population. However, persistent illicit drug abuse is a serious risk factor for violent behavior, even long after the start of treatment. Achieving remission early and reducing substance abuse may contribute to a lower long-term risk for violent behavior in FEP patients.