Mental illness devastates lives.
A promising breakthrough in assessing the risk of psychosis made by mental health researchers from the University of Adelaide could result in earlier treatment and prevent psychotic episodes from occurring.
Dr Scott Clark, from the university’s Discipline of Psychiatry, said that having a more reliable and flexible method of prediction means care can be tailored to the people who need it most.
The new probability model combines medical history, the latest bedside clinical assessment, and the patients’ fatty acids levels.
“Fatty acids such as omega-3 and nervonic acid are critical for the normal functioning of the brain, and low levels have been associated with the development of psychosis in high-risk groups,” Dr Clark says.
“In our model, fatty acid levels provided improved accuracy of prediction when patients were at intermediate risk following clinical assessment.”
The model has shown 70% accuracy in predicting patients who are at greatest risk of having their first psychotic episode within 12 months, compared with the 28% accuracy of the current criteria for those who are at “ultra-high risk”.
Currently all patients in the ultra-high risk group are considered to have a similar chance of a future psychotic episode, but researchers have been able to identify high, intermediate and low-risk groups.
Dr Clark says clinical trials based on this model could occur within the near future.
You can read more about this project here. Story credit: University of Adelaide newsroom.
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