Coordinated Specialty Care Early Intervention Services for Schizophrenia Show Great Promise in Improving Outcomes

July 1, 2015

ARLINGTON, Va., July 1, 2015 — Several new specialty care programs are improving the mental health of people with schizophrenia  through comprehensive and aggressive treatment in the earliest stages of illness. These efforts are described in a special section in the July issue of Psychiatric Services.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness affecting roughly 1 percent of people at some point in their lives. The U.S. has lagged behind other counties in developing early intervention treatment programs for people with schizophrenia.

“Now that we know which programs are most effective, we can begin to offer these services across the United States,” said Amy Goldstein, Ph.D., with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

“This research will help us give hope and support to people with schizophrenia and their families.”

Several of these interventions were funded through NIMH’s RAISE (Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode) project. The special section features reports from the RAISE project as well as analyses of other programs used to treat people with schizophrenia. The interventions encompass a comprehensive approach featuring services such as family education, individual resiliency training, supported employment and education, and a focus on patient’s life goals.

The following are a few key findings:

  • Patients in the RAISE Connection Program showed improvement in job and social settings, fewer symptoms and reduced rates of remission.
  • An analysis of the RAISE Connection Program found that the program’s focus on patients’ life goals was a critical factor in engaging them. Other factors that encouraged engagement were individualized services and staff interactions that were respectful, warm and flexible; engagement of family members; and a focus on shared decision making.
  • Findings from a controlled trial of STEP (Specialized Treatment Early in Psychosis), which is not part of the RAISE initiative, are also presented. STEP was established in 2006 by the Connecticut Mental Health Center. After one year, STEP participants had significantly fewer and shorter hospital stays than those in usual treatment and demonstrated better job performance.

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose more than 36,000 physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders. Visit the APA






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