Objective: We sought to establish the views of general practitioners about detecting and managing patients with a first episode of schizophrenia in Ireland.
Method: Twenty per cent of GPs were invited to participate in a cross-sectional postal survey.
Results: Sixty-two per cent (n = 261) participated. Almost all (99.2%) see at least one case of suspected first episode schizophrenia annually. The most commonly (80.7%) encountered symptom is ‘bizarre behaviour’. Many (47.7%) rarely or never prescribe antipsychotics to patients whom they suspect have a first episode of schizophrenia. However, 80.6% of GPs reported that they ‘always’ refer this group of patients to psychiatric services. Over half (57.8%) advised patients with schizophrenia to continue medication for less than a year. A large number of respondents reported that it is difficult to obtain a rapid psychiatric assessment.
Conclusions: GPs want more information about identifying early psychosis, a closer liaison with psychiatric services and a rapid intervention service.