Background Trajectory patterns of positive, disorganized and negative dimension symptoms during antipsychotic treatment in drug-naive patients with first-episode psychosis have yet to be examined by using naturalistic data.

Method This pragmatic clinical trial randomized 161 drug-naive patients with a first episode of psychosis to olanzapine, risperidone or haloperidol. Patients were assessed with the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS) and Positive Symptoms (SAPS) at baseline and at the end of weeks 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 of antipsychotic treatment. Censored normal models of response trajectories were developed with three dimensions of the SAPS-SANS scores (positive, disorganized and negative) in order to identify the different response trajectories. Diagnosis, cannabis use, duration of untreated psychosis (DUP), smoking and antipsychotic class were examined as possible predictive variables.

Results Patients were classified in five groups according to the positive dimension, three groups according to the disorganized dimension and five groups according to the negative dimension. Longer DUPs and cannabis use were associated with higher scores and poorer responses in the positive dimension. Cannabis use was associated with higher scores and poorer responses in the disorganized dimension. Only schizophrenia diagnosis was associated with higher scores and poorer responses in the negative dimension.

Conclusions Our results illustrate the heterogeneity of short-term response to antipsychotics in patients with a first episode of psychosis and highlight markedly different patterns of response in the positive, disorganized and negative dimensions. DUP, cannabis use and diagnosis appeared to have a prognostic value in predicting treatment response with different implications for each dimension.

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Published in Psychological Medicine, v. 44, issue 1, p. 37-50.

© Cambridge University Press 2013

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