Pathways to care: duration of untreated psychosis from Karachi, Pakistan.

Document Type





Background: Substantial amount of time is lost before initiation of treatment in Schizophrenia. The delay in treatment is labelled as Duration of Untreated Psychosis (DUP). Most of these estimates come from western countries, where health systems are relatively better developed. There is dearth of information on pathway to care from developing countries. Methods And Results: Patients with ICD-10 based diagnosis of Schizophrenia were enrolled by convenient method of sampling. The pathway to care was explored through a semi-structured questionnaire. Onset, course and symptoms of psychosis were assessed using Interview for the Retrospective Assessment of the Onset of Schizophrenia (IRAOS). Ethical approval of the project was taken from The Aga Khan University, Ethics Review Committee. Of the enrolled 93 subjects, 55 (59%) were males and 38 (41%) were females. In our sample, 1.56 mean (median, 2) attempts were made prior to successful help seeking. The duration of untreated psychosis was 14.8 months (St. Deviation, 29.4). DUP was 16.8 months (St. Deviation, 34.9) for males and 11.8 months (St. Deviation, 18.9) for females. In the pathway to care, psychiatrists featured prominently as initial care providers. In the first attempt at help-seeking, 43% Patients were initially taken to psychiatrists. After the initial consultation, 45% were prescribed psychotropic medication while 7% were hospitalized. Only 9% subjects were given the diagnosis of schizophrenia initially. When participants were inquired about the reasons for delay, 29% reported financial difficulties as the barrier to care. Positive symptoms of psychosis were present in 57% subjects while negative symptoms were present in 30% subjects. There was a statistically significant difference (Chi-square, 7.928, df: 1, Sig 0.005) between DUP and the positive and negative symptoms category. Conclusion: In the absence of well developed primary care health system in Pakistan, majority of Patients present to psychiatrists as a first contact. DUP, as a measurement of help seeking behaviour, tends to be shorter with positive symptoms of Schizophrenia. Substantial amount of time is lost due to non recognition of disease and subsequently, inadequate treatment. Secondary prevention strategies should focus on families, which play an important role in the treatment-seeking process of psychotic Patients.


Plos One