Has improved treatment contributed to the declining rate of transition to psychosis in ultra-high-risk cohorts?

M. J.C. Formica, L. J. Phillips, J. A. Hartmann, A. R. Yung, S. J. Wood, A. Lin, G. P. Amminger, P. D. McGorry, B. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: The factors contributing to declining psychotic disorder transition rates in ultra-high-risk populations remain unclear. We examined the contribution of longitudinal changes in standard clinical treatment (‘treatment as usual’) to this decline. Method: An audit was conducted on 105 clinical files of patients who received standard care at a specialised ultra-high-risk service. The session notes of these files were quantified, allowing examination of treatment quantity, targets, psychotherapy, and medication. Differences in these aspects across patients' year of clinic entry were assessed. Variables with significant differences across years were examined using cox regression to assess their contribution to psychosis transition rates. Results: Findings were that, as a function of patients' year of clinic entry, there were increases in: patients' number of sessions, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), problem and solving therapy. There was a relationship between baseline year cohort and psychosis transition rate, with lower rates observed in more recent cohorts. When changes in treatment between cohorts were adjusted for, the relationship between baseline year cohort and transition rate disappeared. The relationship between baseline year and transition rate was attenuated most by increases in CBT. Conclusion: Changes in standard treatment, particularly increases in CBT, may have contributed to the decline in psychosis risk observed in recent ultra-high-risk cohorts, although these variables do not fully explain this trend. Implications for clinical practice, prediction and intervention research are discussed. Future ultra-high-risk research should investigate the impact of other treatment factors, such as therapeutic alliance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-284
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


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