Relapse after first-episode psychosis (FEP) is a major clinical challenge for specialized early intervention services. Understanding patient perspectives on factors contributing to relapse can inform the development of risk assessments and preventive interventions. The objective of this study was to identify factors that may contribute to and prevent relapse from the perspectives of patients receiving services for FEP. Data from 25 participants across four focus groups in Canada were analyzed with a descriptive content analysis approach. Twelve factors were identified, of which four (social environment, technology use, medication, and lifestyle behaviors) had both contributory and preventive roles. In descending order of frequency, risk factors for relapse included substance use; unsupportive social environment; technology use; taking and not taking medication; lack of sleep; work, career, or school stress; significant life events; symptoms of depression or mania; generalized worry; and financial stress. Preventive factors consisted of having a supportive social environment, using technology, taking medication, using coping strategies, and engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors and meaningful activities. These findings extend the literature on relapse vulnerability and protective factors. Importantly, the factors identified in this study are modifiable, and thereby provide insights for the development and optimization of relapse risk assessments and preventive interventions.
Keywords: Patient perceptions; Psychoeducation; Psychoses; Qualitative research; Recovery; Relapse.