Interventions for prodromal stage of psychosis

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Background: Psychosis is a serious mental condition characterised by a loss of contact with reality. There may be a prodromal period or stage of psychosis, where early signs of symptoms indicating onset of first episode psychosis (FEP) occur. A number of services, incorporating multimodal treatment approaches (pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions), developed worldwide, now focus on this prodromal period with the aim of preventing psychosis in people at risk of developing FEP. Objectives: The primary objective is to assess the safety and efficacy of early interventions for people in the prodromal stage of psychosis. The secondary objective is, if possible, to compare the effectiveness of the various different interventions. Search methods: We searched Cochrane Schizophrenia's study-based Register of studies (including trials registers) on 8 June 2016 and 4 August 2017. Selection criteria: All randomised controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating interventions for participants older than 12 years, who had developed a prodromal stage of psychosis. Data collection and analysis: Review authors independently inspected citations, selected studies, extracted data, and assessed study quality. Main results: We included 20 studies with 2151 participants. The studies analysed 13 different comparisons. Group A comparisons explored the absolute effects of the experimental intervention. Group B were comparisons within which we could not be clear whether differential interactive effects were also ongoing. Group C comparisons explored differential effects between clearly distinct treatments. A key outcome for this review was ‘transition to psychosis’. For details of other main outcomes please see 'Summary of findings' tables. In Group A (comparisons of absolute effects) we found no clear difference between amino acids and placebo (risk ratio (RR) 0.48 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.08 to 2.98; 2 RCTs, 52 participants; very low-quality evidence). When omega-3 fatty acids were compared to placebo, fewer participants given the omega-3 (10%) transitioned to psychosis compared to the placebo group (33%) during long-term follow-up of seven years (RR 0.24 95% CI 0.09 to 0.67; 1 RCT, 81 participants; low-quality evidence). In Group B (comparisons where complex interactions are probable) and in the subgroup focusing on antipsychotic drugs added to specific care packages, the amisulpiride + needs-focused intervention (NFI) compared to NFI comparison (no reporting of transition to psychosis; 1 RCT, 102 participants; very low-quality evidence) and the olanzapine + supportive intervention compared to supportive intervention alone comparison (RR 0.58 95% CI 0.28 to 1.18; 1 RCT, 60 participants; very low-quality evidence) showed no clear differences between groups. In the second Group B subgroup (cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT)), when CBT + supportive therapy was compared with supportive therapy alone around 8% of participants allocated to the combination of CBT and supportive therapy group transitioned to psychosis during follow-up by 18 months, compared with double that percentage in the supportive therapy alone group (RR 0.45 95% CI 0.23 to 0.89; 2 RCTs, 252 participants; very low-quality evidence). The CBT + risperidone versus CBT + placebo comparison identified no clear difference between treatments (RR 1.02 95% CI 0.39 to 2.67; 1 RCT, 87 participants; very low-quality evidence) and this also applies to the CBT + needs-based intervention (NBI) + risperidone versus NBI comparison (RR 0.75 95% CI 0.39 to 1.46; 1 RCT, 59 participants; very low-quality evidence). Group C (differential effects) also involved six comparisons. The first compared CBT with supportive therapy. No clear difference was found for the ‘transition to psychosis’ outcome (RR 0.74 95% CI 0.28 to 1.98; 1 RCT, 72 participants; very low-quality evidence). The second subgroup compared CBT + supportive intervention was compared with a NBI + supportive intervention, again, data were equivocal, few and of very low quality (RR 6.32 95% CI 0.34 to 117.09; 1 RCT, 57 participants). In the CBT + risperidone versus supportive therapy comparison, again there was no clear difference between groups (RR 0.76 95% CI 0.28 to 2.03; 1 RCT, 71 participants; very low-quality evidence). The three other comparisons in Group C demonstrated no clear differences between treatment groups. When cognitive training was compared to active control (tablet games) (no reporting of transition to psychosis; 1 RCT, 62 participants; very low quality data), family treatment compared with enhanced care comparison (RR 0.54 95% CI 0.18 to 1.59; 2 RCTs, 229 participants; very low-quality evidence) and integrated treatment compared to standard treatment comparison (RR 0.57 95% CI 0.28 to 1.15; 1 RCT, 79 participants; very low-quality evidence) no effects of any of these approaches was evident. Authors' conclusions: There has been considerable research effort in this area and several interventions have been trialled. The evidence available suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may prevent transition to psychosis but this evidence is low quality and more research is needed to confirm this finding. Other comparisons did not show any clear differences in effect for preventing transition to psychosis but again, the quality of this evidence is very low or low and not strong enough to make firm conclusions.




Bosnjak Kuharic, D., Kekin, I., Hew, J., Rojnic Kuzman, M., & Puljak, L. (2019, November 1). Interventions for prodromal stage of psychosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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