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Am J Psychiatry. 2017 Feb 1;174(2):143-153. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16010103. Epub 2016 Oct 24.

The Epidemiology of First-Episode Psychosis in Early Intervention in Psychosis Services: Findings From the Social Epidemiology of Psychoses in East Anglia [SEPEA] Study.

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From the PsyLife Group, Division of Psychiatry, UCL, London; the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom; the Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust, Norwich, Norfolk, United Kingdom; the North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom; and the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Foundation Trust, and NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) East of England, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom.



Few studies have characterized the epidemiology of first-episode psychoses in rural or urban settings since the introduction of early intervention psychosis services. To address this, the authors conducted a naturalistic cohort study in England, where such services are well established.


All new first-episode psychosis cases, 16-35 years old, presenting to early intervention psychosis services in the East of England were identified during 2 million person-years follow-up. Presence of ICD-10 F10-33 psychotic disorder was confirmed using OPCRIT [operational criteria for psychotic illness]. Incidence rate ratios were estimated following multivariable Poisson regression, adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, neighborhood-level deprivation, and population density.


Of 1,005 referrals, 687 participants (68.4%) fulfilled epidemiological and diagnostic criteria for first-episode psychosis (34.0 new cases per 100,000 person-years; 95% CI=31.5-36.6). Median age at referral was similar for men (22.5 years; interquartile range: 19.5-26.7) and women (23.4 years; interquartile range: 19.5-29.1); incidence rates were highest for men and women before 20 years of age. Rates increased for ethnic minority groups (incidence rate ratio: 1.4; 95% CI=1.1-1.6), as well as with lower socioeconomic status (incidence rate ratio: 1.3; 95% CI=1.2-1.4) and in more urban (incidence rate ratio: 1.4;95%CI=1.0-1.8) and deprived (incidence rate ratio: 2.1; 95% CI=1.3-3.3) neighborhoods, after adjustment for confounders.


Pronounced variation in psychosis incidence, peaking before 20 years old, exists in populations served by early intervention psychosis services. Excess rates were restricted to urban and deprived communities, suggesting that a threshold of socioenvironmental adversity may be necessary to increase incidence. This robust epidemiology can inform service development in various settings about likely population-level need.


Community Mental Health; Epidemiology; Psychosis; Schizophrenia

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