The introduction of specialized early intervention (SEI) has shown successful outcomes for the treatment of schizophrenia or other psychotic illnesses. This study aims to compare five years of SEI treatment only with two years of standard care along with three years of SEI in patients with a first-episode schizophrenia spectrum disorder.

This superiority, parallel-group, randomized trial with blinded outcome assessment included a total of 400 (mean age 25.6 years ) participants with a first-episode schizophrenia spectrum disorder. The participants were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to five years of SEI treatment (n=197)  or two years of standard care, followed by three years of SEI (n=197). The primary outcome of the study was negative symptoms measured on the scale for the assessment of negative symptoms.

Follow-up after the conclusion of treatment suggested that there was no significant difference in the levels of negative symptoms between the intervention (1.72) and the control group (1.81). The findings also indicated that participants receiving five-year SEI treatment were more likely to remain with specialized mental health services (90.4%) compared with the other control group (55.6%).

The research concluded that five-year SEI treatment for first-episode schizophrenia was not associated with a substantial decrease in levels of negative symptoms, but it was related to a lasting treatment with higher satisfaction rates.