Health services determinants of the duration of untreated psychosis among African-American first-episode patients

Michael T. Compton, Claire E. Ramsay, Ruth Shim, Sandra M. Goulding, Tynessa L. Gordon, Paul S. Weiss, Benjamin G. Druss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objective: The duration of untreated psychosis is associated with poor outcomes in multiple domains in the early course of nonaffective psychotic disorders, although relatively little is known about determinants of this critical period, particularly health services-level determinants. This study examined three hypothesized predictors of duration of untreated psychosis (lack of insurance, financial problems, and broader barriers) among urban, socioeconomically disadvantaged African Americans, while controlling for the effects of three patient-level predictors (mode of onset of psychosis, living with family versus alone or with others before hospitalization, and living above versus below the federally defined poverty level). Methods: Analyses included data from 42 patient-family member dyads from a larger sample of 109 patients with a first episode of nonaffective psychosis. The duration of untreated psychosis and all other variables were measured in a rigorous, standardized fashion in a study designed specifically to examine determinants of treatment delay. Survival analyses and Cox regression assessed the effects of the independent predictors on time from onset of psychosis to hospital admission for initial evaluation and treatment. Results: The median duration of untreated psychosis was 24.5 weeks. When the analyses controlled for the three patient-level covariates, patients without health insurance, with financial problems, or with barriers to seeking help had a significantly longer duration of untreated psychosis. Conclusions: Health services-related factors, such as lack of insurance, are predictive of longer treatment delay. Efforts to eliminate uninsurance and underinsurance, as well as minimize barriers to treatment, would be beneficial for improving the prognosis of young patients with emerging nonaffective psychotic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1489-1494
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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