The impact of family experience on the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) in Hong Kong

Eric Yu-Hai Chen, Eva Lai-Wah Dunn, May Yin-King Miao, Wai-Song Yeung, Chi-Keung Wong, Wah-Fat Chan, Ronald Yuk-Lun Chen, Ka-Fai Chung, Wai-Nang Tang
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2005, 40 (5): 350-6

BACKGROUND: Previous family experience of psychotic illness may play an important role in whether and when a patient seeks help in first-episode psychosis. This study investigated the relationship between family experience of psychosis and the duration of untreated psychosis in a prospective sample of first-episode psychosis patients in Hong Kong. We also studied the effects of pre-morbid adjustment, educational level, living alone, and mode of onset as potential determinants of the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP).

METHODS: A total of 131 first-episode psychosis patients in Hong Kong were recruited in a study of the DUP and related factors. The Interview for the Retrospective Assessment of the Onset of Schizophrenia (IRAOS) was used to measure the DUP and to provide a structured assessment of family history, educational level, household arrangement, and mode of onset.

RESULTS: Previous family experience of psychiatric illness (the presence of another family member who has been receiving psychiatric treatment) and an acute mode of onset were significant predictors of a shorter DUP. Educational level had a modest effect on its own, but was not significant in the binary logistic regression model. Living alone had a moderate effect size, but was non-significant, possibly because of the small proportion of single-person households in the sample. The symptom profile, pre-morbid adjustment, and other demographic factors were not significantly related to the DUP.

CONCLUSION: In addition to the mode of onset, previous family experience plays an important role in the presentation of early psychosis. Educational efforts that target the family should be an important part of any strategy for the early detection of psychosis.

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