Family context and duration of untreated psychosis (DUP): results from the Sao Paulo Study

Alexandra M Oliveira, Paulo R Menezes, Geraldo F Busatto, Philip K McGuire, Robin M Murray, Marcia Scazufca
Schizophrenia Research 2010, 119 (1-3): 124-30

BACKGROUND: Duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) depends on several factors, including socio-demographic, socioeconomic, clinical and contextual circumstances, such as availability of mental health services. Living arrangements may also play a role, especially in low- and middle-income countries, where most people who develop psychosis live with their relatives.

METHODS: Population-based study of first-episode psychosis in São Paulo, Brazil. Participants were aged 18-64 years, lived in a defined geographic area of the city and had a first contact in life with mental health services due to a psychotic episode. Duration of untreated psychosis was defined as the period between onset of first psychotic symptom and first contact with health service due to psychosis. The median DUP was used to classify participants into short and long DUP. Psychopathology, social adjustment and psychiatric diagnoses were made with standardized assessments. Type of service sought and living arrangements were examined.

RESULTS: Two hundred participants were included (52% women, 61% non-affective psychoses). The median DUP was 4.1 weeks (inter-quartile range: 1.9-11.4), and was shorter for affective psychoses. Most participants had their first contact with psychiatric emergency services. Those who did not live with a relative (children older than 18 years, parents, partner) were more likely to present long DUP (OR: 2.63; 95%CI: 0.98-7.04); p=0.05).

CONCLUSION: The DUP in São Paulo was shorter than expected. Living arrangements may play an important role in shortening the DUP in urban centres of low- and middle income countries that have a network of mental health services.

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