Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 50, Issue 12, pp 1831–1841 | Cite as

Duration of unspecific prodromal and clinical high risk states, and early help-seeking in first-admission psychosis patients

  • Frauke Schultze-LutterEmail author
  • Jonas Rahman
  • Stephan Ruhrmann
  • Chantal Michel
  • Benno G. Schimmelmann
  • Wolfgang Maier
  • Joachim Klosterkötter
Original Paper



Prevention of psychosis requires both presence of clinical high risk (CHR) criteria and early help-seeking. Previous retrospective studies of the duration of untreated illness (i.e. prodrome plus psychosis) did not distinguish between prodromal states with and without CHR symptoms. Therefore, we examined the occurrence of CHR symptoms and first help-seeking, thereby considering effects of age at illness-onset.


Adult patients first admitted for psychosis (n = 126) were retrospectively assessed for early course of illness and characteristics of first help-seeking.


One-hundred and nine patients reported a prodrome, 58 with CHR symptoms. In patients with an early illness-onset before age 18 (n = 45), duration of both illness and psychosis were elongated, and CHR symptoms more frequent (68.9 vs. 33.3 %) compared to those with adult illness-onset. Only 29 patients reported help-seeking in the prodrome; this was mainly self-initiated, especially in patients with an early illness-onset. After the onset of first psychotic symptoms, help-seeking was mainly initiated by others. State- and age-independently, mental health professionals were the main first point-of-call (54.0 %).


Adult first-admission psychosis patients with an early, insidious onset of symptoms before age 18 were more likely to recall CHR symptoms as part of their prodrome. According to current psychosis-risk criteria, these CHR symptoms, in principle, would have allowed the early detection of psychosis. Furthermore, compared to patients with an adult illness-onset, patients with an early illness-onset were also more likely to seek help on their own account. Thus, future awareness strategies to improve CHR detection might be primarily related to young persons and self-perceived subtle symptoms.


Psychoses First episode Early intervention Health behaviour Child and adolescent psychiatry 



The study was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Grant 01 GI 0235 to Prof. J. Klosterkötter, Cologne, and Prof. W. Maier, Bonn). Data assessments were supported by Daniel Köhn, Heinz Picker, Sarah von der Laage, Annett Nüchter, all formerly Cologne; Verena Pützfeld, Cologne; Julia Berning, Julia Bludau, both formerly Bonn, and Antje Niedersteberg, formerly Duisburg.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no conflict of interest in relation to the present study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frauke Schultze-Lutter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jonas Rahman
    • 1
  • Stephan Ruhrmann
    • 2
  • Chantal Michel
    • 1
  • Benno G. Schimmelmann
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Maier
    • 3
  • Joachim Klosterkötter
    • 2
  1. 1.University Hospital of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity of BernBern 60Switzerland
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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