A descriptive study of pathways to care among hospitalized urban African American first-episode schizophrenia-spectrum patients
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- Compton, M.T., Esterberg, M.L., Druss, B.G. et al. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol (2006) 41: 566. doi:10.1007/s00127-006-0065-z
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Studying pathways to care, or contacts made during the period of time from the onset of illness until the first initiation of treatment, is critical for understanding how to improve the early recognition and treatment of mental disorders. However, little is known about pathways to care among patients with first-episode psychosis in the United States. The objectives of this study were to examine the pathways to care and number of help contacts prior to hospitalization in first-episode patients, and to ascertain the frequency of contact with primary care providers and police.
Pathways to care, including all contacts for help from the onset of prodromal symptoms until first hospital admission, were assessed in 25 urban African American patients. Other measures were obtained as part of an ongoing study of predictors of the duration of untreated psychosis.
The median durations from the onset of illness to hospital admission and from the emergence of positive psychotic symptoms to hospital admission were 128.0 weeks (range 0.6–476.9) and 32.9 weeks (range 0.4–337.7), respectively. Of the 83 total contacts, 17 were with police, whereas only four were with primary care providers. While the number of contacts per patient ranged from one to eight, 16 of the 25 patients were admitted within 1 week of their first contact for help.
The findings indicate that pathways to care in this population are highly variable, and there is a need for additional research to better understand the nature and determinants of these pathways. Such investigations may provide insights into service enhancements that can promote early detection and intervention, thus improving illness outcomes.