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It is unknown whether patient disengagement from early intervention services for psychosis is as prevalent in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) like India, as it is in high-income countries (HICs). Addressing this gap, we studied two first-episode psychosis programs in Montreal, Canada and Chennai, India. We hypothesized lower service disengagement among patients and higher engagement among families in Chennai, and that family engagement would mediate cross-site differences in patient disengagement.
Sites were compared on their 2-year patient disengagement and family engagement rates conducting time-to-event analyses and independent samples t tests on monthly contact data. Along with site and family involvement, Cox proportional hazards regression included known predictors of patient disengagement (e.g. gender).
The study included data about 333 patients (165 in Montreal, 168 in Chennai) and their family members (156 in Montreal, 168 in Chennai). More Montreal patients (19%) disengaged before 24 months than Chennai patients (1%), χ2(1, N = 333) = 28.87, p < 0.001. Chennai families had more contact with clinicians throughout treatment (Cohen's d = −1.28). Family contact significantly predicted patient disengagement in Montreal (HR = 0.87, 95% CI 0.81–0.93). Unlike in Chennai, family contact declined over time in Montreal, with clinicians perceiving such contact as not necessary (Cohen's d = 1.73).
This is the first investigation of early psychosis service engagement across a HIC and an LMIC. Patient and family engagement was strikingly higher in Chennai. Maintaining family contact may benefit patient engagement, irrespective of context. Findings also suggest that differential service utilization may underpin cross-cultural variations in psychosis outcomes.
Purported superior outcomes for treatment of psychosis in low- and middle-income (LMICs) compared with high-income (HICs) countries have not been examined in the context of early intervention services (EIS).
To compare 2-year clinical outcomes in first-episode psychosis (FEP) treated in EIS in Chennai (LMIC) and Montreal (HIC) using a similar EIS treatment protocol and to identify factors associated with any outcome differences.
Patients with FEP treated in EIS in Chennai (n = 168) and Montreal (n = 165) were compared on change in level of symptoms and rate and duration of positive and negative symptom remission over a 2-year period. Repeated-measures analysis of variance, and logistic and linear regression analyses were conducted.
Four patients died in Chennai compared with none in Montreal. Family support was higher for Chennai patients (F = 14.05, d.f. = 1, P < 0.001, ƞp2 = 0.061) and increased over time at both sites (F = 7.0, d.f. = 1.915, P < 0.001, ƞp2 = 0.03). Negative symptom outcomes were significantly better in Chennai for level of symptoms (time × site interaction F = 7.36, d.f. = 1.49, P = 0.002, ƞp2 = 0.03), duration of remission (mean 16.1 v. 9.78 months, t = −7.35, d.f. = 331, P < 0.001, Cohen's d = 0.80) and the proportion of patients in remission (81.5% v. 60.3%, χ2 = 16.12, d.f. = 1, P < 0.001). The site differences in outcome remained robust after adjusting for inter-site differences in other characteristics. Early remission and family support facilitated better outcome on negative symptoms. No significant differences were observed in positive symptom outcomes.
Patients with FEP treated in EIS in LMIC contexts are likely to show better outcome on negative symptoms compared with those in HIC contexts. Early remission and family support may benefit patients across both contexts.
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