May 30, 2006

Early Treatment Program Working in Canada

In Canada, a story by the London Free Press (Ontario) reported on the success of the local Early Schizophrenia treatment program. Unfortunately, there are a very limited number of small research centers in the US that are offering early treatment programs like the ones that are throughout Canada (and it seems unlikely that early treatment programs will ever become common in the US due to Insurance company lobbying). Following is a summary of the story:

Early Treatment Helps people who have Schizophrenia; London, Ontario scientists also say that the more social supports available, the better the results.

London, Ontario is a city of about 450,000 people and a site of one of the many early treatment centers in Canada. Scientists at their early treatment center have analyzed the results of the early treatment program efforts on 200 of the participants during the past two years and have found the faster people are treated after they start experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia, the better the outcome.

"That's exciting because it [indicates that early psychosis] is something we might be able to change," said Dr. Ross Norman, a Lawson Health Research Institute scientist.

Norman and his colleagues in the Prevention and Early Intervention for Psychoses, part of the mental-health care program at London Health Sciences Centre, have been following 200 patients with schizophrenia for two years.

In addition to earlier treatment, they found the more social supports an individual has the better the results for the patient in the long term with individuals recovering faster.

It is important for people to realize that schizophrenia isn't a lifetime sentence, he said.

"There are some people who do not have a particularly good outcome, but there are other people who have an episode of psychosis, but then go on to lead really very full lives and do not relapse. There is tremendous variation."

The London program has reported substantially lower relapse rates than what is usually experienced. Norman attributes that to the followup care patients receive.

Schizophrenia commonly hits in late adolescence and early adulthood.

With its data showing the importance of early detection and treatment, the London program has been working to educate local schools, the University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe College and other agencies to educate them about the early warning signs.

Source: London Free Press

More information:

Worldwide list of Early Schizophrenia Treatment Centers


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