Which pathways to psychiatric care lead to earlier treatment and a shorter duration of first-episode psychosis?
BACKGROUND There is a common assumption that Black patients with a psychotic mental illness experience longer treatment delays during a first episode. We sought to investigate this issue in a large cohort of patients with a first episode of psychosis. METHOD All patients with a first episode of psychosis presenting to secondary mental health services within tightly defined catchment areas in south-east London and Nottingham over a 2-year period were included in the study. Data relating to duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) and clinical and sociodemographic characteristics were collected from patients, relatives and case-notes. RESULTS There was no evidence that African-Caribbean or Black African patients experienced longer periods of untreated psychosis than White British patients prior to first contact with services. There was evidence that Black African patients experienced shorter periods of untreated psychosis than White British patients. CONCLUSIONS Contrary to what is commonly assumed, our study suggests that Black patients with a psychotic mental illness do not experience longer treatment delays prior to first contact with services than White British patients. This suggests that strategies to reduce treatment delays targeted specifically at Black patients will be of limited value.