Multidimensional analysis of adult patients’ care trajectories before a first diagnosis of schizophrenia


For patients at high-risk for developing schizophrenia, a delayed diagnosis could be affected, among many reasons, by their patterns of healthcare use. This study aims to describe and generate a typology of patients’ care trajectories (CTs) in the 2 years preceding a first diagnosis of schizophrenia, over a medico-administrative database of 3712 adults with a first diagnosis between April 2014 and March 2015 in Quebec, Canada. This study applied a multidimensional approach of State Sequence Analysis, considering together sequences of patients’ diagnoses, care settings and care providers. Five types of distinct CTs have emerged from this data-driven analysis: The type 1, shared by 77.6% of patients, predominantly younger men, shows that this group sought little healthcare, among which 17.5% had no healthcare contact for mental disorders. These individuals might benefit from improved promotion and prevention of mental healthcare at the community level. The types 2, 3 and 4, with higher occurrence of mental disorder diagnoses, represent together 19.5% of the study cohort, mostly middle-aged and women. These CTs, although displaying roughly similar profiles of mental disorders, revealed very dissimilar sequences and levels of care providers encounters, primary and specialized care use, and hospitalizations. Surprisingly, patients of these CTs had few consultations with general practitioners. An increased attentiveness for middle-aged patients and women with high healthcare use for mental disorders could help to reduce delayed diagnosis of schizophrenia. This calls for further consideration of healthcare services for severe mental illness beyond those offered to young adults.

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