[Pathways to care: help-seeking behavior in first-episode psychosis]

D Köhn, R Pukrop, Antje Niedersteberg, Frauke Schultze-Lutter, S Ruhrmann, A Bechdolf, Julia Berning, W Maier, J Klosterkötter
Fortschritte der Neurologie-Psychiatrie 2004, 72 (11): 635-42
Several studies on first episode schizophrenia suggest that a longer duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) results in poorer clinical outcome. The same is expected for the duration of untreated illness (DUI). It is therefore important to expose people at risk of schizophrenia to adequate treatment early on. The improvement of pathways to adequate treatment within the health care system might well be helpful. Therefore, an analysis of the pathways to care is necessary. Thus, in this present study 80 in-patients with first episode psychosis were investigated using the semi-structured interview IRAOS ("Interview for the Retrospective Assessment of the Onset of Schizophrenia") and data about the pathways to care before psychiatric admission were collected. The results indicate that patients contact on average three carers. Contact to a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist was only made two and a half years after onset of illness; general practitioners were only contacted after more than five years. However, there was a significant time lapse between first contact to psychiatrist/ psychotherapist and psychiatric admission. Only 31 % of patients sought help in the prodromal phase of the illness. Two strategies for a public campaign can be derived from these results: firstly, a public awareness campaign has to be implemented to shorten the interval from onset of illness to first help-seeking behaviour and secondly, professionals need to have more knowledge and better awareness of prodromal signs in order to reduce the time between diagnosis and adequate treatment.

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