The pathways to care in a first onset psychosis are diverse and may influence the chances of early treatment and therefore the duration of untreated psychosis. We test which pathways to care are associated with a delay in receiving treament and a longer duration of untreated psychosis (DUP).
In a population based survey, we interviewed 480 people with first episode psychosis aged 18 to 64 years over a 2-year period. Information from structured interview and case files provided DSM-IV diagnostic, clinical, and demographic information. Consecutive contacts in the care pathway were mapped using the World Health Organisation’s Encounter Form. Using information from all sources, DUP was defined as time from symptom onset to first treatment with antipsychotic medication.
The most common first contacts were primary care physicians (35.2%), emergency rooms in general hospital settings (21.3%), and criminal justice agencies (25.4%). In multivariate regression models, compared to DUP for those first in contact with primary care, DUP was shortest for first encounters with psychiatric emergency clinics (RR = 0.4, 95% CI: 0.23-0.71) and longest for first encounters with criminal justice agencies (RR = 1.61, 95% CI: 1-2.58). Older age was associated with a longer DUP (RR = 1.01 per year, 95% CI: 1-1.04). A shorter DUP was associated with a diagnosis of mania and affective psychoses-NOS compared with schizophrenia (RR = 0.22, 95% CI: 0.14-0.35; RR = 0.18, 95% CI: 0.06-0.54, respectively), for Black compared with White ethnicity (RR = 0.52, 95% CI: 0.34-0.82), and for each close person in the social network (RR = 0.9, 95% CI: 0.84-0.96).
To further reduce DUP, better links are needed between primary care, emergency rooms, criminal justice and psychiatric services.