Honorary research fellow publishes papers to explore untreated psychosis

Posted on Monday 3rd June 2013

Dr Charlotte Connor, Honorary Fellow at The University of Birmingham, has recently had two papers published following research conducted in collaboration with Professor Max Birchwood at the University of Birmingham.

The first article has been published in ‘The British Journal of Psychiatry’. The article titled “Reducing duration of untreated psychosis: care pathways to early intervention in psychosis services” documents the care-pathway components of duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) and their link with delays in accessing specialised early intervention services (EIS). They modelled the likely impact on efforts to reduce DUP of targeted changes in the care pathway using data for 343 individuals from the Birmingham, UK lead site of the National EDEN cohort. One-third of the cohort had a DUP exceeding 6 months. The greatest contribution to DUP for the whole cohort came from delays within mental health services, followed by help seeking delays. It was found that delay in reaching EIS was strongly correlated with longer DUP. Their findings suggest that community education and awareness campaigns to reduce DUP may be constrained by later delays within mental health services, especially access to EIS. Their methodology, based on analysis of care pathways, will have international application when devising strategies to reduce DUP.

The Second article, “Don’t turn your back on the symptoms of psychosis: a proof-of-principle, quasi-experimental public health trial to reduce the duration of untreated psychosis in Birmingham, UK”, published in ‘BMC Psychiatry’ documents the protocol for their quasi-experimental public health trial, comparing a targeted intervention area in the south of Birmingham, with a ‘detection as usual’ area. The trial focuses on reducing two significant care pathway delays within the overall care pathway - delays within the mental health service and help-seeking delays using a youth-focused clinical team and public health campaign.

YouthSpace advertCharlotte has also worked in collaboration with Max Birchwood in developing a website aimed at teenagers and young adults experiencing mental health problems. YouthSpace (www.youthspace.me) was launched in early 2011. The website offers advice, resources, signposting, educational films, blogs and social media access for young people, families/carers and those who work alongside young people, on all aspects of mental health and well-being. The website has been a central feature of a public health campaign, media resources offering a direct link to the psychosis specific page of the providing a variety of information about psychosis, the benefits and importance of early help- seeking, and where to go to seek help.

YouthSpace website screenshot

Charlotte graduated with a PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK in 2008; her thesis entitled ‘The Bio-psychosocial goals of Social Rank and Attachment: their role in the depressive experience of those who hear voices’. Following completion of her PhD she worked as a researcher on the National EDEN project, a multi-site evaluation of Early Intervention Services for young people experiencing first-episode psychosis, funded by NIHR SDO. Charlotte is currently employed by Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust as Senior Research Fellow on CLAHRC - BBC (Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for Birmingham & The Black Country) CLAHRC is an NIHR funded mental health project which focuses on the prevention of, and early intervention in major mental health problems, with specific emphasis on understanding treatment delays experienced by young people with first-episode psychosis. An integral part of the CLAHRC early detection and intervention has been a public health initiative targeting the care pathway delays responsible for delays in the treatment of psychosis, aiming to reduce the duration of untreated psychosis experienced by young people in Birmingham.

Her research interests are auditory hallucinations, focusing on the cognitive model of voices and the interpersonal dimension of the voice/voice-hearer relationship and adolescent mental health. 

See a list of publications on Dr Charlotte Connor's profile.