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Relapse prevention strategies based on monitoring of early warning signs (EWS) are advocated for the management of psychosis. However, there has been a lack of research exploring how staff, carers and patients make sense of the utility of EWS, or how these are implemented in context.
To develop a multiperspective theory of how EWS are understood and used, which is grounded in the experiences of mental health staff, carers and patients.
Twenty-five focus groups were held across Glasgow and Melbourne (EMPOWER Trial, ISRCTN: 99559262). Participants comprised 88 mental health staff, 21 patients and 40 carers from UK and Australia (total n = 149). Data were analysed using constructivist grounded theory.
All participants appeared to recognise EWS and acknowledged the importance of responding to EWS to support relapse prevention. However, recognition of and acting on EWS were constructed in a context of uncertainty, which appeared linked to risk appraisals that were dependent on distinct stakeholder roles and experiences. Within current relapse management, a process of weighted decision-making (where one factor was seen as more important than others) described how stakeholders weighed up the risks and consequences of relapse alongside the risks and consequences of intervention and help-seeking.
Mental health staff, carers and patients speak about using EWS within a weighted decision-making process, which is acted out in the context of relationships that exist in current relapse management, rather than an objective response to specific signs and symptoms.
Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) recommend evidence-based psychosocial interventions (EBPIs) to improve consumer recovery; however, availability appears limited. We describe receipt of six EBPIs, reported by people with psychoses, and associations with service and consumer characteristics, including indicators of need (eligibility) and benefit (suitability).
Participants in the 2010 Australian national survey of psychosis (n = 1825) were interviewed to assess demographic, functional, mental and physical health characteristics and service use in the previous year. Six EBPIs (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for psychosis; Family Psycho-Education (FPE); Relapse Prevention Planning (RPP); Skills Training; Supported Employment; and Assertive Community Treatment) were chosen, based on the strength and consistency of CPG recommendations. Associations between receipt of interventions and eligibility and suitability indicators were examined via correlations and χ2. Logistic regression was used to predict receipt of one or more EBPIs and to identify predictors of each individual EBPI.
Less than one-quarter of the sample reported receipt of an evidence-based level of any intervention: rates ranged from 3.4% (FPE) to 21.1% (RPP). The model predicting receipt of one or more EBPIs was statistically significant (χ2 (20, n = 1746) = 216.12, p < 0.01) and marginally useful. Nine variables contributed uniquely, of which six were service characteristics. The strongest predictors of receipt were being assigned a psychologist as a case manager (p < 0.01, OR(CI) = 2.36(1.50–3.72)) and accessing a non-clinical mental health support service in the past year (p < 0.01, OR(CI) = 2.01(1.60–2.51)).
Prior reports of limited receipt of EBPIs are reinforced. There is patchy evidence for targeting of EBPIs to those who might benefit most. Service characteristics contribute more to the prediction of receipt than clinical characteristics. Greater implementation effort and better targeting are required to bridge evidence-practice gaps, including improved evidence-based practice literacy among professionals and needs-based service re-design to improve provision and optimise consumer outcomes.
The efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in psychosis has been reported but not for medication-resistant psychosis.
To test the efficacy of ACT in a sample of community-residing patients with persisting psychotic symptoms. (Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12608000210370.)
The primary outcome was overall mental state at post-therapy (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale –total); secondary outcomes were psychotic symptom dimensions and functioning. In total, 96 patients were randomised to ACT (n = 49) or befriending (n = 47). Symptom, functioning and process measures were administered at baseline, post-therapy and 6 months later.
There was no group difference on overall mental state. In secondary analyses the ACT group showed greater improvement in positive symptoms and hallucination distress at follow-up: Cohen's d = 0.52 (95% CI 0.07–0.98) and 0.65 (95% CI 0.24–1.06), respectively.
Improvements reflected the treatment focus on positive symptoms; however, absence of process-measure changes suggests that the ACT intervention used did not manipulate targeted processes beyond befriending. Symptom-specific therapy refinements, improved investigation of process and attention to cognitive functioning and dose are warranted in future research.