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Evidence indicates that the positive effects of 2-year early intervention services for psychosis are not maintained after service withdrawal. Optimal duration of early intervention in sustaining initial improved outcomes remains to be determined.
To examine the sustainability of the positive effects of an extended, 3-year, early intervention programme for patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP) after transition to standard care.
A total of 160 patients, who had received a 2-year early intervention programme for FEP, were enrolled to a 12-month randomised-controlled trial (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01202357) comparing a 1-year extension of the early intervention (3-year specialised treatment) with step-down care (2-year specialised treatment). Participants were followed up and reassessed 2 and 3 years after inclusion to the trial.
There were no significant differences between the treatment groups in outcomes on functioning, symptom severity and service use during the post-trial follow-up period.
The therapeutic benefits achieved by the extended, 3-year early intervention were not sustainable after termination of the specialised service.
Numerous early intervention services targeting young people with
psychosis have been established, based on the premise that reducing
treatment delay and providing intensive treatment in the initial phase of
psychosis can improve long-term outcome.
To establish the effect of extending a specialised early intervention
treatment for first-episode psychosis by 1 year.
A randomised, single-blind controlled trial (NCT01202357) compared a
1-year extension of specialised early intervention with step-down care in
patients who had all received a 2-year intensive early intervention
programme for first-episode psychosis.
Patients receiving an additional year of specialised intervention had
better outcomes in functioning, negative and depressive symptoms and
treatment default rate than those managed by step-down psychiatric
Extending the period of specialised early intervention is clinically
desirable but may not be feasible in lower-income countries.
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