Early intervention for psychosis services have been established worldwide and consist of specialist services for those with the At-Risk Mental State (ARMS) and a first episode of psychosis (FEP). This systematic review identified the literature on the outcomes of people who initially presented via an ARMS clinic and later transitioned to a psychotic disorder (UHR-T), compared to those who presented directly to an EI service with a FEP (FEP-D). The outcomes examined were (i) symptomatic (ii) functional, (iii) morbidity and mortality (including physical health) and (iv) service-usage.
A systematic search strategy was employed using three databases: MEDLINE, PsycInfo, and EMBASE. Studies published in English and that compared any of the above outcomes in a cohort of people with a first episode of psychosis who initially presented via an ARMS clinic to those who presented directly to a FEP service were included. Meta-analysis was performed for any outcome data from at least two studies.
A total of 988 unique articles were identified and of these, three studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria and these included a total of 78 UHR-T and 253 FEP-D individuals. In the one study examining remission rates, there was no difference observed after one year in the UHR-T and FEP-D groups. In the one study that examined neurocognition, no differences were observed in any of the neurocognitive domains between groups after one year. Two studies examined psychiatric admission rates within one year and one of these found that UHR-T individuals were less likely to have any psychiatric admission (46% vs 68%) and admissions were less likely to be involuntary (30% vs 74%), while the other study found no difference in admission rates. In the meta-analysis, UHR-T individuals had lower odds for any psychiatric hospital admission within one year compared to FEP-D individuals (OR = 0.54, 95% C.I. 0.32 – 0.94, p = .03). No studies examined functional outcomes or mortality and morbidity between the groups.
The limited research indicates similar or superior outcomes for people with a FEP who present initially via an ARMS clinic. The reduced psychiatric admission rate is an important potential benefit of ARMS clinics that requires replication.

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