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The family physician is key to facilitating access to psychiatric treatment for young people with first-episode psychosis, and this involvement can reduce aversive events in pathways to care. Those who seek help from primary care tend to have longer intervals to psychiatric care, and some people receive ongoing psychiatric treatment from the family physician.
Our objective is to understand the role of the family physician in help-seeking, recognition and ongoing management of first-episode psychosis.
We will use a mixed-methods approach, incorporating health administrative data, electronic medical records (EMRs) and qualitative methodologies to study the role of the family physician at three points on the pathway to care. First, help-seeking: we will use health administrative data to examine access to a family physician and patterns of primary care use preceding the first diagnosis of psychosis; second, recognition: we will identify first-onset cases of psychosis in health administrative data, and look back at linked EMRs from primary care to define a risk profile for undetected cases; and third, management: we will examine service provision to identified patients through EMR data, including patterns of contacts, prescriptions and referrals to specialised care. We will then conduct qualitative interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders to better understand the trends observed in the quantitative data.
These findings will provide an in-depth description of first-episode psychosis in primary care, informing strategies to build linkages between family physicians and psychiatric services to improve transitions of care during the crucial early stages of psychosis.
Discrepancies between population-based estimates of the incidence of psychotic disorder and the treated incidence reported by early psychosis intervention (EPI) programs suggest additional cases may be receiving services elsewhere in the health system. Our objective was to estimate the incidence of non-affective psychotic disorder in the catchment area of an EPI program, and compare this to EPI-treated incidence estimates.
We constructed a retrospective cohort (1997–2015) of incident cases of non-affective psychosis aged 16–50 years in an EPI program catchment using population-based linked health administrative data. Cases were identified by either one hospitalization or two outpatient physician billings within a 12-month period with a diagnosis of non-affective psychosis. We estimated the cumulative incidence and EPI-treated incidence of non-affective psychosis using denominator data from the census. We also estimated the incidence of first-episode psychosis (people who would meet the case definition for an EPI program) using a novel approach.
Our case definition identified 3245 cases of incident non-affective psychosis over the 17-year period. We estimate that the incidence of first-episode non-affective psychosis in the program catchment area is 33.3 per 100 000 per year (95% CI 31.4–35.1), which is more than twice as high as the EPI-treated incidence of 18.8 per 100 000 per year (95% CI 17.4–20.3).
Case ascertainment strategies limited to specialized psychiatric services may substantially underestimate the incidence of non-affective psychotic disorders, relative to population-based estimates. Accurate information on the epidemiology of first-episode psychosis will enable us to more effectively resource EPI services and evaluate their coverage.
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