Is there an association between duration of untreated psychosis and 24- month clinical outcome in a first-admission series?

Thomas J. Craig, Evelyn J. Bromet*, Shmuel Fennig, Marsha Tanenberg-Karant, Janet Lavelle, Nora Galambos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The authors examined the duration of untreated psychosis, defined as the interval from first psychotic symptom to first psychiatric hospitalization, in a county-wide sample of first-admission inpatients who had received no previous antipsychotic medication. Differences between diagnostic groups in 24-month illness course and clinical outcomes as well as relationships between outcomes and duration of untreated psychosis were evaluated. Method: The data were derived from subjects in the Suffolk County Psychosis Project who were diagnosed at 24-month follow-up according to DSM- IV as having schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (N=155), bipolar disorder with psychotic features (N=119), or major depressive disorder with psychotic features (N=75). Duration of untreated psychosis was derived from the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R, medical records, and information from significant others. Measures at 24-month follow-up included consensus ratings of illness course, Global Assessment of Functioning Scale scores for the worst week in the month before interview, and current affective and psychotic symptoms. Results: The median duration of untreated psychosis was 98 days for schizophrenia, 9 days for psychotic bipolar disorder, and 22 days for psychotic depression. Duration of untreated psychosis was not significantly associated with 24-month illness course or clinical outcomes in any of the diagnostic subgroups. Conclusions: Although these findings require replication in other epidemiologically based first- admission samples, at face value they do not support the suggestion of a psychotoxic effect of prolonged exposure to untreated psychosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000


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