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.
The number of children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders being treated with antipsychotic medication is increasing significantly; however, only a limited evidence-base is available on this topic, especially when children are concerned. This study reports and discusses the use of antipsychotic medication in children and adolescents below 19 years of age in Denmark. A national cross-sectional survey registered the use of antipsychotic drugs on a given date. A questionnaire was sent to all child and adolescent psychiatric departments and all consultants in child and adolescent psychiatry throughout the country. All children and adolescents, aged 0-18 years, registered in treatment with antipsychotic medication, were included. Sixty-seven per cent of clinics and 63% of consultants participated. The total number of subjects registered in examination or treatment in the participating units was 3854. Antipsychotic medication was used in n=244 (6.4%) of these cases. Eighty-eight patients received additional medication, of which 24% received antidepressants, 8% sedative medication and 4% psychostimulants. The age of the patients was 4-18 years, and 63% was male. The most frequent diagnoses for patients in antipsychotic treatment were: schizophrenia, schizotypal disorder, autism spectrum disorders and personality disorders. Monotherapy was used in 87% of cases. Sixty-four per cent of patients treated with antipsychotics, received a second-generation antipsychotic as the main treatment. All 244 patients received one or more additional treatment modalities other than medication. Antipsychotic medication has a definite role in the treatment of children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders. Second-generation antipsychotics used as monotherapy prevail.