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J Psychiatr Res. 2008 Oct;42(12):982-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2007.12.001. Epub 2008 Jan 15.

Impact of duration of untreated psychosis on pre-treatment, baseline, and outcome characteristics in an epidemiological first-episode psychosis cohort.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Duisburg-Essen, Virchowstrasse 174, 45147 Essen, Germany.



To assess the impact of duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) on baseline and 18-month follow-up characteristics controlling for relevant confounders in an epidemiological first-episode psychosis (FEP) cohort.


The Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) in Australia admitted 786 FEP patients from January 1998 to December 2000. Data were collected from medical files using a standardized questionnaire. Data from 636 patients were analyzed.


Median DUP was 8.7 weeks. Longer DUP was associated with worse premorbid functioning (p<0.001), higher rate of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (p<0.001), and younger age at onset of psychosis (p=0.004). Longer DUP was not associated with baseline variables but with a lower rate of remission of positive symptoms (p<0.001) and employment/occupation (p<0.001), a higher rate of persistent substance use (p=0.015), worse illness severity (p<0.001) and global functioning (p<0.001) at follow-up after controlling for relevant confounders, explaining approximately 5% of variance of remission of positive symptoms (p<0.001) in the total sample and 3% in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders excluding bipolar I disorder (p=0.002). Outcome was significantly worse when DUP exceeded 1-3 months.


Avoiding pitfalls of non-epidemiological studies, DUP appears to be a modest independent predictor of prognosis in the medium-term. Results support the need for assertive early detection strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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