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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Delays in Seeking Treatment for Psychosis Explained

Stigmas, attitudes of self-reliance, and the misattribution of symptoms led a group of young adults experiencing their first episode of psychosis to delay seeking treatment, finds a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

[Photo: Dr. Leopoldo J. Cabassa]

“These factors created a cloud of uncertainty in which individuals experiencing early psychosis and their family members struggled to make sense of what was happening, how and when to seek help, and what to expect from treatment,” said Dr. Leopoldo J. Cabassa, associate professor at the Brown School and an expert on mental health services.

Dr. Cabassa is lead author of the study in collaboration with colleagues from Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute and Hunter College. It was published March 1 in the journal Psychiatric Services.

A sample of 10 family members and 20 individuals who participated in a specialized early intervention service for nonaffective psychosis were enrolled in the study. Qualitative interviews were used to characterize participants’ lives during the onset of psychosis and explore their help-seeking.

It was one of the few studies, particularly in the U.S., that have examined the pathways to early specialized intervention services for young people and their family members experiencing first-episode psychosis

“Our findings indicate that efforts to streamline entry into early intervention services for psychosis should focus on reducing the uncertainty that affected individuals and their family members face when seeking care by improving their experiences with mental health services,” Dr. Cabassa said.

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