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Negative symptoms are an important symptom dimension in schizophrenia that are often least responsive to antipsychotic medications. We revisit the current practice of identifying ‘primary’ negative symptoms and suggest that its concept would benefit from a further elaboration of their timing of emergence in relation to the dynamic neurobiological changes to enhance their utility in clinical decision-making and research.
Contrasting the well-described effects of early intervention (EI) services for youth-onset psychosis, the potential benefits of the intervention for adult-onset psychosis are uncertain. This paper aims to examine the effectiveness of EI on functioning and symptomatic improvement in adult-onset psychosis, and the optimal duration of the intervention.
360 psychosis patients aged 26–55 years were randomized to receive either standard care (SC, n = 120), or case management for two (2-year EI, n = 120) or 4 years (4-year EI, n = 120) in a 4-year rater-masked, parallel-group, superiority, randomized controlled trial of treatment effectiveness (Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT00919620). Primary (i.e. social and occupational functioning) and secondary outcomes (i.e. positive and negative symptoms, and quality of life) were assessed at baseline, 6-month, and yearly for 4 years.
Compared with SC, patients with 4-year EI had better Role Functioning Scale (RFS) immediate [interaction estimate = 0.008, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.001–0.014, p = 0.02] and extended social network (interaction estimate = 0.011, 95% CI = 0.004–0.018, p = 0.003) scores. Specifically, these improvements were observed in the first 2 years. Compared with the 2-year EI group, the 4-year EI group had better RFS total (p = 0.01), immediate (p = 0.01), and extended social network (p = 0.05) scores at the fourth year. Meanwhile, the 4-year (p = 0.02) and 2-year EI (p = 0.004) group had less severe symptoms than the SC group at the first year.
Specialized EI treatment for psychosis patients aged 26–55 should be provided for at least the initial 2 years of illness. Further treatment up to 4 years confers little benefits in this age range over the course of the study.
Schizophrenia is a longstanding condition and most patients experience multiple relapse in the course of the condition. High expressed emotion (HEE) has been found to be a predictor of relapse. This meta-analysis and meta-regression examined the association of global EE and relapse specifically focusing on timing of relapse and EE domains.
Random-effects model was used to pool the effect estimates. Multiple random-effects meta-regression was used to compute the moderator analysis. Putative effect moderators including culture, EE measurements, age, length of condition and study quality were included.
Thirty-three prospective cohort studies comprising 2284 patients were included in the descriptive review and 30 studies were included for meta-analysis and meta-regression. Findings revealed that global HEE significantly predicted more on early relapse (⩽12 months) [OR 4.87 (95% CI 3.22–7.36)] than that on late relapse (>12 months) [OR 2.13 (95% CI 1.36–3.35)]. Higher level of critical comments (CC) significantly predicted relapse [OR 2.22 (95% CI 1.16–4.26)], whereas higher level of warmth significantly protected patients from relapse [OR 0.35 (95% CI 0.15–0.85)]. None of the moderators included significantly change the results.
These findings indicate that there is a dynamic interaction between EE-relapse association with time, and CC and warmth are the two important EE domains to influence relapse among patients with schizophrenia. Results also confirmed the foci of family interventions on reducing CC and improving warmth in relationship.
Little is known about long-term employment outcomes for patients with first-episode schizophrenia-spectrum (FES) disorders who received early intervention services.
We compared the 10-year employment trajectory of patients with FES who received early intervention services with those who received standard care. Factors differentiating the employment trajectories were explored.
Patients with FES (N = 145) who received early intervention services in Hong Kong between 1 July 2001 and 30 June 2002 were matched with those who entered standard care 1 year previously. We used hierarchical clustering analysis to explore the 10-year employment clusters for both groups. We used the mixed model test to compare cluster memberships and piecewise regression analysis to compare the employment trajectories of the two groups.
There were significantly more patients who received the early intervention service in the good employment cluster (early intervention: N = 98 [67.6%]; standard care: N = 76 [52.4%]; P = 0.009). In the poor employment cluster, there was a significant difference in the longitudinal pattern between early intervention and standard care for years 1–5 (P < 0.0001). The number of relapses during the first 3 years, months of full-time employment during the first year and years of education were significant in differentiating the clusters of the early intervention group.
Results suggest there was an overall long-term benefit of early intervention services on employment. However, the benefit was not sustained for all patients. Personalisation of the duration of the early intervention service with a focus on relapse prevention and early vocational reintegration should be considered for service enhancement.
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