The Danish OPUS I trial randomized 547 patients with first-episode psychosis to a two-year early-specialised assertive treatment programme (OPUS) versus standard treatment. The two years OPUS treatment had significant positive effects on psychotic and negative symptoms, secondary substance abuse, treatment adherence, lower dosage of antipsychotic medication, and a higher treatment satisfaction. However, three years after end of the OPUS treatment, the positive clinical effects were not sustained, except that OPUS-treated patients were significantly less likely to be institutionalised compared with standard-treated patients. The major objective of the OPUS II trial is to evaluate the effects of five years of OPUS treatment versus two years of OPUS treatment.
The OPUS II trial is designed as a randomized, open label, parallel group trial with blinded outcome assessment. Based on our sample size estimation, 400 patients treated in OPUS for two years will be randomized to further three years of OPUS treatment versus standard treatment. The specialized assertive OPUS treatment consists of three core elements: assertive community treatment, psycho-educational family treatment, and social skills training.
It has been hypothesized that there is a critical period from onset up to five years, which represents a window of opportunity where a long-term course can be influenced. Extending the specialized assertive OPUS treatment up to five years may allow the beneficial effects to continue beyond the high-risk period, through consolidation of improved social and functional outcome.