First contact with psychiatric specialists hastens schizophrenia treatment

Patients with first-onset psychosis wait less time for treatment if they visit emergency clinics staffed by specialist psychiatric teams than their counterparts who access healthcare in community settings, report researchers.

The findings emerge from a study of 480 inner-city dwelling individuals with any psychotic syndrome and indicate that after emergency clinics with specialist psychiatric staff, patients whose first encounters were at general practices, psychiatric services or accident and emergency rooms in general hospitals had the shortest duration of untreated psychosis (DUP).

Conversely, the DUP was longest for patients whose first encounters were with health visitors and social workers, and the criminal justice system (CJS).

“Those working in these settings should be encouraged to initiate prompt referral to emergency rooms in general hospitals or general practice and then to psychiatric services”, write Kamaldeep Bhui (Queen Mary University of London, UK) and co-authors in BMC Psychiatry.

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