Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate access to care and service delivery for first-episode psychosis (FEP) in rural, coastal and remote regions. Method: Routine clinical outcome data were analysed for patients aged 10-25 years who presented to mental health services in either a rural, coastal or remote region of New South Wales over a 3-year period. Results: The results showed rural region FEP patients travelled significantly further to access services than non-FEP patients. Remote region FEP patients were older and more likely to be male and Aboriginal than non-FEP patients. Alcohol and drug problems were significantly more likely for FEP than non-FEP patients across all regions. Utilization of mental health services was more frequent for FEP than non-FEP children and adolescents. Conclusion: The study highlights the importance of identification of FEP, particularly in the 10-18-year age group, where cognitive problems are likely to adversely affect schooling as well as be detrimental to social relationships. Service provision for FEP youth in rural areas requires innovation and coordination of limited resources,including better provision of training and ongoing clinical supervision.
Australasian Psychiatry Vol. 16, Issue 2, p. 119-124