A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Early Intervention Services On Insight in First Episode Psychosis

Schizophr Bull. 2022 Nov 18;48(6):1295-1305. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbac099.


Background and hypothesis: Impaired insight into one's illness is common in first episode psychosis (FEP), is associated with worse symptoms and functioning, and predicts a worse course of illness. Despite its importance, little research has examined the effects of early intervention services (EIS) on insight.

Designs: This paper evaluated the impact of EIS (NAVIGATE) on insight compared to usual community care (CC) in a large cluster randomized controlled trial. Assessments were conducted at baseline and every 6 months for 2 years.

Results: A multilevel regression model including all time points showed a significant time by treatment group interaction (P < .001), reflecting greater improvement in insight for NAVIGATE than CC participants. Impaired insight was related to less severe depression but worse other symptoms and functioning at baseline for the total sample. At 6 months, the same pattern was found within each group except insight was no longer associated with depression among NAVIGATE participants. Impaired insight was more strongly associated with worse interpersonal relationships at 6 months in NAVIGATE than in CC, and changes in insight from baseline to 6 months were more strongly correlated with changes in relationships in NAVIGATE than CC.

Conclusions: The NAVIGATE program improved insight significantly more than CC. Although greater awareness of illness has frequently been found to be associated with higher depression in schizophrenia, these findings suggest EIS programs can improve insight without worsening depression in FEP. The increased association between insight and social relationships in NAVIGATE suggests these 2 outcomes may synergistically interact to improve each other in treatment.

Keywords: RAISE-ETP; recent onset psychosis; schizophrenia; social functioning.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Psychotic Disorders* / therapy
  • Schizophrenia* / therapy