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Schizophr Res. 2002 Mar 1;54(1-2):177-86.

The schizophrenia prodrome: treatment and high-risk perspectives.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry Research, Hillside Hospital of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, 75-59 263rd Street, Glen Oaks, NY 11004, USA.


Interest in the prodromal stage of schizophrenia-the stage directly preceding the onset of psychosis-has recently undergone a dramatic increase. To a great extent, this has resulted from the convergence of two very different research traditions. Many treatment researchers have moved from a concern with symptom control to an interest in prevention and view the prodrome as the optimal stage to begin intervention with anti-psychotics. High-risk researchers, who view the identification of accurate risk factors as necessarily preceding preventive programs, have begun to move from the premorbid to the prodromal phase as the most effective starting point. Thus, researchers in both traditions have targeted the schizophrenia prodrome as the most likely gateway to prevention. However, clashes between the two traditions in approaches, methodology and research goals have also led to considerable controversy. Such issues as how best to define the prodrome, what the actual risk for schizophrenia is among prodromal individuals, and what type of medication should be used remain largely unresolved. The Hillside Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program has been designed to address many of these and related questions. Within a naturalistic treatment framework, the RAP program combines both high-risk and treatment research strategies. Preliminary findings from a 3-year RAP pilot study, for example, suggest that the prodrome is a developmentally complex phase of schizophrenia, that it consists of distinctly different subgroups and that novel anti-psychotics are clearly beneficial for some but not all individuals. Depending upon clinical characteristics and phase of the prodrome, anti-depressants also appear highly effective.

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