Early detection and assertive community treatment of young psychotics: the Opus Study Rationale and design of the trial
Background: Recent research indicates that early detection of young persons suffering from psychosis and subsequent intensive intervention enhances treatment response and prognosis, but the data are only preliminary and suggestive. Method: We present the rationale and design of the largest study to date to evaluate two major issues in the field of secondary prevention: (1) Does education and intensified collaboration with general practice, social services etc. reduce the duration of untreated psychosis? and (2) Can modified assertive community treatment improve the course and outcome in young persons suffering from psychosis as compared to treatment in community mental health centres? The article aims additionally to put the study in context and assist in designing future studies. Results: Preliminary experiences are described. The findings of the first 312 patients show that modified assertive community treatment results in patients adhering to treatment significantly better than standard treatment in community mental health centres. Conclusion: The surge of interest in preventively oriented detection and treatment models for untreated psychosis in young people calls for research programmes and evidence. The obstacles to this are manifold. The initial findings of the OPUS study suggest, however, that better adherence to treatment is possible.
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