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Psychiatr Serv. 2009 Sep;60(9):1164-6. doi: 10.1176/

Best practices: improving quality of care for patients with first-episode psychosis.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary, and the Department of Psychiatry, Foothills Hospital, 1403 29th St., N.W., Calgary, Alberta T2N 2T9, Canada.


The principles of early intervention and evidence-based care have been applied to the task of improving outcome for first-episode schizophrenia. Significant progress has been achieved through clinical innovation, research, advocacy, and policy changes. Canada has seen the implementation of such services in a number of jurisdictions, and there is a need to develop tools and strategies for quality assurance and quality improvement. The use of tools such as clinical practice guidelines, program fidelity scales, and performance measures, standards, and benchmarks is well established for quality assurance and quality improvement. These tools are available for other areas of mental health care and are being developed for application to treatment services for early psychosis. This column illustrates some of the tools available for quality improvement and the challenges in their application. Development and application of such tools are required to move first-episode psychosis treatment from innovation to best practice and standard care.

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