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Diagnosis of individuals who present for care in first episode programs can be complex. However, an accurate diagnosis is important in determining eligibility, measuring duration of untreated psychosis and developing a plan of care. Clinicians must balance the need for detailed information about the severity and timing of symptoms with the multiple other demands during an initial assessment. Disentangling the numerous variables that may be causing psychotic symptoms, such as substance use, is not straightforward. Also, not all clinicians who conduct these assessments have received the training and supervision that may be optimal to make clear diagnostic distinctions. In this learning exchange these challenges will be discussed strategies presented that have been employed to improve the accuracy of diagnosis in community programs.
Drs. Rachel Loewy, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco and John Kane, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine lead the discussion by providing insights from their several years of experience working in First Episode Programs.