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PSU center contributes to national study showing early intervention prevents psychosis
Author: Early Assessment and Support Alliance Center for Excellence
Posted: August 11, 2014

A new national study analyzing results of early psychosis intervention programs in Oregon and five other states shows a package of pre-emptive services can prevent young people with signs of a psychotic disorder from developing full-blown psychosis. 

Oregon’s Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) Center for Excellence — housed at Portland State University — was closely involved in the study published online July 26 in the Schizophrenia Bulletin

The national report on the Early Detection and Intervention for the Prevention of Psychosis Program, a large clinical trial funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, determined early intervention is effective in preventing many of the symptoms and consequences of psychosis.  

"Identifying and treating the early symptoms of schizophrenia, which develops gradually, can usually prevent serious consequences like school drop-out, long-term unemployment, loss of social relationships, involuntary treatment and legal involvement,” said EASA Director Tamara Sale. “This report reinforces EASA’s mission of early detection and support even further.”

At least one young person in almost every Oregon classroom will go on to develop psychosis, a condition most commonly characterized by hallucinations and delusions or bizarre beliefs. 

EASA has been one of the leaders in psychosis intervention since 2001. With legislative funding in 2007, Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to commit to making early psychosis intervention the standard of care for all teenagers and young adults. In 2014, Congress required all U.S. states and territories to include early psychosis intervention in their federal block grant plans, laying the groundwork for a new national standard. 

The study, along with a growing body of international research, helped pave the way for Oregon to begin providing a more thorough assessment for earlier-stage symptoms.   

Early signs include significant changes in performance, behavior and perceptions. The person may start doing or believing things which seem bizarre and out of context. For those whose symptoms are consistent with schizophrenia or related illnesses, EASA provides counseling, family support, medical treatment, and support for school and work. 

With support from the Oregon Legislature, EASA is currently available or under development in 32 of Oregon's 36 counties. The Legislature also funded the EASA Center for Excellence at PSU, which provides training, support and ongoing program development to Oregon's statewide network.  

For more information and a list of local programs, visit EASA's website at www.easacommunity.org, or call Tamara Sale, Director, EASA Center for Excellence, at 503-725-9620.