Background: The duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) is defined as the period between the onset of symptoms of psychosis and the start of antipsychotic treatment. Delay in the initiation of treatment, resulting in a long DUP, is associated with a poor prognosis in high-income (HI) countries. It is not known if longer DUP is associated with poor outcomes in Low and Middle Income (LAMI) countries, where schizophrenia might have a more benign course.
Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies from LAMI countries that reported an association between DUP and response to treatment, measures of disability and mortality. The association between DUP, symptoms and cognitive function at presentation were also examined.
Findings: Meta analysis of five studies that reported the association between DUP and the reduction in total symptoms scores after treatment found a significant negative correlation between DUP and improvement in symptoms after treatment (r=-0.290, 95% CI=-0.483 to -0.069, z=-2.559, p<0.011). Prolonged DUP was also associated with increased levels of disability. One study reported that longer DUP was associated with a higher mortality in the following decade.
Conclusions: Delay in the initial initiation of treatment for psychosis is associated with a poorer response to treatment and increased levels of disability in LAMI countries.