Method: The authors evaluated 281 patients (early detection, N=141) 18 to 65 years old with a first episode of nonaffective psychosis between 1997 and 2001. Of these, 101 patients in the early-detection area and 73 patients in the usual-detection area were followed up at 10 years, and the authors compared their symptoms and recovery.
Results: A significantly higher percentage of early-detection patients had recovered at the 10-year follow-up relative to usual-detection patients. This held true despite more severely ill patients dropping out of the study in the usual-detection area. Except for higher levels of excitative symptoms in the early-detection area, there were no symptom differences between the groups. Early-detection recovery rates were higher largely because of higher employment rates for patients in this group.
Conclusions: Early detection of first-episode psychosis appears to increase the chances of milder deficits and superior functioning. The mechanisms by which this strategy improves the long-term prognosis of psychosis remain speculative. Nevertheless, our findings over 10 years may indicate that a prognostic link exists between the timing of intervention and outcome that deserves additional study.