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Early Psychosis: Where we've been, where we still have to go

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 May 2011

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Early intervention in psychosis, while not a new concept, has seen great development over the last 15 years. Growth in this time has occurred in a number of areas and has attracted a broad coalition of researchers, consumers, clinicians, carers and policy makers. In this time the concept of early intervention has moved from the fringes to the mainstream of clinical approaches to psychosis in many places, and is doing so in even more. After a decade and a half, this paper reviews some of the key issues that have been addressed and points to areas where further growth and reform is still required. Some issues that have created controversy are examined here including pre-onset intervention and identification, the relationship of duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) to outcome and whether or not early intervention is an effective and economically viable model. Areas that are only now developing or which require further investigation are considered, including the concept of stages of mental illness and concomitant interventions, closing the efficacy-effectiveness gap and an increased focus on functioning as part of the recovery process. Early intervention in psychosis started as a reformist movement, agitating for change from outside the mainstream. Change has occurred and now early intervention is part of the mainstream approach to psychotic illness. In order to continue to develop, while enjoying the benefits of being a mainstream intervention, early intervention must not stray too far from its reformist roots.

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