ED to EPI: Using SMS to Improve the Transition From the Emergency Department to Early Psychosis Intervention

  • End date
    Mar 19, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Updated on 7 October 2022


Psychosis is a disabling condition that typically has its onset in adolescence and early adulthood. Many young people with psychosis have difficulty navigating services or are reluctant to engage in treatment until their illness becomes an emergency. Consequently, nearly half of all new psychotic disorders are diagnosed in the emergency department (ED). Despite the rationale and evidence for early psychosis intervention (EPI), around half of youth do not access these services. The investigators will use short message service (SMS)/text messaging, a low-cost, low-complexity, youth-friendly approach, to improve transitions in care from the ED and related acute services to EPI services, investigating the intervention's effect on attendance at the first consultation appointment, longer term service engagement, and system-level outcomes. The investigators will also evaluate cost-effectiveness and user perspectives of the intervention.


At the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the investigators will recruit a consecutive series of 186 participants aged 16 to 29 referred by the CAMH ED and related acute services to CAMH's EPI program for a pragmatic randomized controlled trial of a 2-way SMS intervention involving reminders, psychoeducation, and check-ins. The primary outcome will be rate of attendance at the first consultation appointment assessed through chart reviews. Secondary outcomes will include indicators of long-term service engagement as well as symptoms and functioning 6 months following study enrollment and health service utilization for up to 2 years using administrative data from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). Administrative data will be used for an economic analysis. Participants who receive the active intervention will be asked to complete a web-based survey evaluating their experience and a subgroup will be asked to participate in in-depth in-person qualitative interviews. Patients and family members with lived experience will be engaged in all aspects of the project, including shaping the intervention and study design.

The investigators hypothesize that the intervention will result in increased rate of attendance at the first EPI consultation appointment, as well as improved longer-term engagement in outpatient EPI services compared to the sham comparator. Demonstrating evidence that this low-cost, low-complexity, youth-friendly intervention improves engagement in outpatient EPI services has the potential to improve long-term outcomes for young people with psychosis.

Condition First Episode Psychosis, Psychosis, Psychotic Episode, Psychoses, Affective, Bipolar Disorder, Depressive Psychosis, Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophreniform Disorders, Schizophrenia, Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders, Substance Induced Psychoses
Treatment Active SMS Intervention, Sham SMS
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04298450
SponsorCentre for Addiction and Mental Health
Last Modified on7 October 2022


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Inclusion Criteria

Have been referred by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) emergency department or related acute services to the CAMH early psychosis intervention (EPI) program for suspected psychosis

Exclusion Criteria

Inability to communicate in basic written English
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