Objectives — Early intervention programs are effective for improving outcomes in first-episode psychosis; however, less is known about their effectiveness for mood and anxiety disorders. We sought to evaluate the impact of an early intervention program for emerging adults with mood and anxiety disorders in the larger health system context, relative to standard care.
Methods — Using health administrative data, we constructed a retrospective cohort of cases of mood and anxiety disorders among emerging adults aged 16 to 25 years in the catchment of the First Episode Mood and Anxiety Program (FEMAP) in London, Ontario, between 2009 and 2014. This cohort was linked to primary data from FEMAP to identify service users. We used proportional hazards models to compare indicators of service use between FEMAP users and a propensity score–matched group of nonusers receiving care elsewhere in the health system.
Results — FEMAP users (n = 490) had more rapid access to a psychiatrist relative to nonusers (hazard ratio [HR], 2.82; 95% confidence interval, 2.45 to 3.26; median time, 16 vs. 71 days). In the year following admission, FEMAP users also had lower rates of emergency department use for mental health reasons (HR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.53 to 0.99). We did not observe differences in psychiatric hospitalization rates.
Conclusions — An early intervention model of care for mood and anxiety disorders is associated with better access to psychiatric care and lower use of the emergency department. Our findings suggest that early intervention services for mood and anxiety disorders may be beneficial from a health systems perspective, and further research on the effectiveness of this model of care is warranted.