The effectiveness of public health interventions, initiatives, and campaigns designed to improve pathways to care for individuals with psychotic disorders: A systematic review

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Purpose: Lengthy duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) and duration of untreated illness (DUI) in people at clinical high-risk for psychosis (CHR-P) and first episode psychosis (FEP) is associated with poorer outcomes. However, individuals with FEP often experience negative pathways to care involving contacts with police, crisis services and requiring compulsory admissions, and evidence suggests individuals with both FEP and CHR-P often experience lengthy delays to treatment. Early detection interventions, such as public health interventions, may be one way to reduce delays. This systematic review aimed to synthesise the available evidence on such interventions.

Methods: The EMBASE, PsychINFO, CINAHL, and MEDLINE databases were searched. Studies were included if they compared an intervention designed to improve timely access to treatment for individuals with FEP or CHR-P to standard treatment provision. Interventions may be targeted at potential patients, their families, the general public, or non-healthcare professionals. Outcomes of interest were DUP or DUI, and/or characteristics of pathways to care.

Results: Nineteen studies met the inclusion criteria. All consisted of FEP populations, none of CHR-P populations. Employing narrative synthesis, we found mixed results about the effectiveness of interventions at reducing DUP and interventions appeared to differentially impact groups. Pathways to care information was limited and mixed.

Conclusion: Findings on the effectiveness of interventions designed to improve timely access to treatment were inconclusive. More research is warranted to better understand where delays occur and factors which may influence this for both FEP and CHR-P populations which may help to develop targeted interventions to address delays.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-179
Number of pages15
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Early online date26 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • At risk mental states
  • Clinical high-risk for psychosis
  • Duration of untreated psychosis
  • First episode psychosis
  • Help seeking behaviour
  • Pathways to care

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