Duration of untreated psychosis and pathways to care in first-episode psychosis. Investigation of help-seeking behaviour in primary care

Amanda Skeate, Chris Jackson, Max Birchwood, Chris Jones
British Journal of Psychiatry. Supplement 2002, 43: s73-7

BACKGROUND: Studies have consistently found that many individuals with first-episode psychosis experience significant delays before receiving treatment. Current research investigating treatment delays has focused on the relationship between demographic factors and duration of untreated psychosis (DUP). However, treatment-seeking behaviours in this group have not been investigated.

AIMS: To examine psychological processes that influence the decision-making process to contact primary care, in individuals with emerging psychosis.

METHOD: The influence of coping style, health locus of control and past health help-seeking behaviour on DUP was investigated in clients with a first episode of psychosis. This involved scrutiny of general practitioner (GP) records in an average of 6 years before the first treatment.

RESULTS: Shorter DUP was associated with more frequent GP attendance in the 6 years before the onset of psychosis and lower health threat avoidant coping scores.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with short DUP have history of higher contact with their GP and, as a group, tend not to avoid health threats. The study underlines the importance of engaging young people and their families with primary care as one of a series of strategies to reduce DUP.

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