Team-based treatment was found to be the best method when it comes to the first episode of psychosis in a recent study. Furthermore, treatment is best when administered soon after the early signs of psychosis become present.
The research team trained clinical staff around the country at real-world clinics to use a specialty treatment program known as NAVIGATE. A team of specialists worked with clients for personalized treatment. Recovery-oriented psychotherapy, low doses of antipsychotic medications, family education and support, case management and work or education support were the treatment options that were offered. Based on their individuals needs the specialists would choose the appropriate method of treatment. Treatment was also a shared decision between the client and the specialists. Family members, too, were involved as much as possible.
John M. Kane, M.D., head of the research, said, “The goal is to link someone experiencing first episode psychosis with a coordinated specialty care team as soon as possible after psychotic symptoms begin. Our study shows that this kind of treatment can be implemented in clinics around the country. It improves outcomes and the effects are greater for those with a shorter duration of untreated psychosis.”
A total of 404 individuals who had just experienced their first episode of psychosis were enrolled into the study – 223 at clinics using NAVIGATE treatment and 181 at traditional clinics. Those enrolled in the NAVIGATE treatment remained in treatment for longer but saw an improvement in symptoms, interpersonal relationships, quality of life, and greater involvement in work or school in comparison to those who received traditional treatment.
Dr. Kane added that the time between the first psychosis and when treatment was administered also plays a role in treatment effectiveness and outcome – the time period in between is known as duration of untreated psychosis (DUP). Half of the participants had a DUP of less than 74 week while the other half had longer. Those with a DUP of under 74 weeks in the NAVIGATE treatment had more improvement compared to those who had a longer DUP in the traditional care system.
Robert Heinssen, Ph.D., director of the Division of Services and Intervention Research at NIMH, said, “Clearly, the take-home message here is that outcomes for young people with early psychosis are better when clinicians do the right things at the right time. Dr. Kane’s work is having an immediate impact on clinical practice in the U.S. and is setting a new standard of care. We’re seeing more states adopt coordinated specialty care programs for first episode psychosis, offering hope to thousands of clients and family members who deserve the best care that science can deliver.”