Duration of untreated psychosis and pathways to care in Suriname: a qualitative study among patients, relatives and general practitioners

Atousa van Beek, Janine de Zeeuw*, Menno de Leeuw, Mia Poplawska, Lise Kerkvliet, Rudi Dwarkasing, Randhir Nanda, Wim Veling

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Purpose Psychosis is a severe mental health problem and is responsible for poor health outcomes, premature mortality and morbidity, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The duration of untreated psychosis (DUP), that is the time period between onset of symptoms until initiation of appropriate treatment by a healthcare professional, is one of the main determinants for successful treatment in western settings. This study aims to explore the factors related to the DUP among Surinamese patients using the perspectives from patients, their families and first-line healthcare professionals in Suriname. Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients having a history of psychosis, family members and general practitioners between February 2019 and April 2019 in Suriname. Interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis for which an inductive and deductive approach was applied. Results In total, 28 patients, 13 family members and 8 general practitioners were interviewed. Five patients were excluded from the study. A median DUP of 4 months was found (IQR 1-36). Identified themes related to DUP included presentation of symptoms and illness awareness, help-seeking behaviour and alternative medicine, social support and stigma, financial and practical factors. Conclusion Multiple factors were related to DUP, of which poor illness awareness, traditional medicine, stigma and social support were predominant. Poor illness awareness and use of alternative medicine were related to a longer DUP. Stigma was often an obstacle for patients and their families. Social and family support was important in helping patients to get medical help sooner. Other explored factors including financial and practical factors did not contribute to DUP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number050731
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2-Feb-2022

Keywords

  • mental health
  • public health
  • psychiatry
  • schizophrenia & psychotic disorders
  • qualitative research
  • 1ST-EPISODE PSYCHOSIS
  • HEALTH-CARE
  • SCHIZOPHRENIA
  • HEALERS
  • DISORDERS
  • OUTCOMES
  • ILLNESS
  • SEEKING
  • PEOPLE

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