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Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Jan;157(1):60-6.

Is there an association between duration of untreated psychosis and 24-month clinical outcome in a first-admission series?

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Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Integrated Service, Network 3, Bronx, NY, USA.



The authors examined the duration of untreated psychosis, defined as the interval from first psychotic symptom to first psychiatric hospitalization, in a county-wide sample of first-admission inpatients who had received no previous antipsychotic medication. Differences between diagnostic groups in 24-month illness course and clinical outcomes as well as relationships between outcomes and duration of untreated psychosis were evaluated.


The data were derived from subjects in the Suffolk County Psychosis Project who were diagnosed at 24-month follow-up according to DSM-IV as having schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (N=155), bipolar disorder with psychotic features (N=119), or major depressive disorder with psychotic features (N=75). Duration of untreated psychosis was derived from the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R, medical records, and information from significant others. Measures at 24-month follow-up included consensus ratings of illness course, Global Assessment of Functioning Scale scores for the worst week in the month before interview, and current affective and psychotic symptoms.


The median duration of untreated psychosis was 98 days for schizophrenia, 9 days for psychotic bipolar disorder, and 22 days for psychotic depression. Duration of untreated psychosis was not significantly associated with 24-month illness course or clinical outcomes in any of the diagnostic subgroups.


Although these findings require replication in other epidemiologically based first-admission samples, at face value they do not support the suggestion of a psychotoxic effect of prolonged exposure to untreated psychosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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