Objective — Physician follow-up after a first diagnosis of psychotic disorder is crucial for improving treatment engagement. We examined the factors associated with physician follow-up within 30 days of a first diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Method — We conducted a retrospective cohort study using linked health administrative data to identify incident cases of schizophrenia between 1999 and 2008 among people aged 14 to 35 years in Ontario. We estimated the proportion of patients who had physician follow-up within 30 days of the index diagnosis. We used multilevel logistic regression models to examine the factors associated with any physician follow-up and follow-up by a psychiatrist.
Results — We identified 20,096 people with a first diagnosis of schizophrenia. Approximately 40% of people did not receive any physician follow-up within 30 days, and nearly 60% did not receive follow-up by a psychiatrist. Males had lower odds of receiving any physician follow-up, and the odds of psychiatrist follow-up decreased with increasing age and were lower for those living in rural areas. Both prior contact with a general practitioner for a mental health reason and prior contact with a psychiatrist were strongly associated with higher odds of receiving both types of follow-up.
Conclusions — Many people do not have any physician contact within 30 days of the first diagnosis of schizophrenia, and patients without prior engagement with mental health services are at highest risk. We need information on the reasons behind this lack of physician follow-up to inform strategies aimed at improving engagement with services during the early stages of psychosis.
Mental health services
Access to health care