Objective: Knowledge of outcome in psychotic illness is limited by the paucity of very long-term epidemiologically representative studies of incidence first episode psychosis (FEP) cohorts that measure and compare outcomes reflecting modern clinical practice, mental health policy and research agendas. Our study aimed to address this gap.
Method: iHOPE-20 is a prospective 20-year follow-up study of a FEP incidence cohort (N=171) conducted between 2014 and 2017 in Ireland. Data from previous studies and medical records were used to recruit cohort members. We assessed remission, clinical recovery, personal recovery and resilience at 20 years; explored the relationships between these outcomes and examined the predictive value of baseline characteristics in determining them.
Results: At follow-up, 20 out of 171 cohort members (11.70%) were deceased. We assessed 80 out of 151 alive cohort members (53% recruitment rate); 65% were in remission; 35.2% were in Full Functional Recovery and 53.7% confirmed they were fully recovered according to their personal definition of recovery. A complex array of relationships between outcomes was found. Outcomes were better for people who had a short duration of untreated psychosis, displayed higher premorbid social adjustment (between the ages of 5–11) and at baseline, were older, not living alone, in full-time employment, given a non-affective diagnosis, and had lower Global Assessment of Functioning scores.
Conclusion: Among participants, full remission of psychotic symptoms and personally defined recovery was not just possible but likely in the very long term. However, attaining positive functional outcomes and building resilience in FEP remain key challenges for mental health services.