The clinical characterization of the patient with primary psychosis aimed at personalization of management

Mario Maj, Jim van Os, Marc De Hert, Wolfgang Gaebel, Silvana Galderisi, Michael F. Green, Sinan Guloksuz, Philip D. Harvey, Peter B. Jones, Dolores Malaspina, Patrick McGorry, Jouko Miettunen, Robin M. Murray, Keith H. Nuechterlein, Victor Peralta, Graham Thornicroft, Ruud van Winkel, Joseph Ventura

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126 Scopus citations


The current management of patients with primary psychosis worldwide is often remarkably stereotyped. In almost all cases an antipsychotic medica­tion is prescribed, with second-generation antipsychotics usually preferred to first-generation ones. Cognitive behavioral therapy is rarely used in the vast majority of countries, although there is evidence to support its efficacy. Psychosocial interventions are often provided, especially in chronic cases, but those applied are frequently not validated by research. Evidence-based family interventions and supported employment programs are seldom implemented in ordinary practice. Although the notion that patients with primary psychosis are at increased risk for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus is widely shared, it is not frequent that appropriate measures be implemented to address this problem. The view that the management of the patient with primary psychosis should be personalized is endorsed by the vast majority of clinicians, but this personalization is lacking or inadequate in most clinical contexts. Although many mental health services would declare themselves “recovery-oriented”, it is not common that a focus on empowerment, identity, meaning and resilience is ensured in ordinary practice. The present paper aims to address this situation. It describes systematically the salient domains that should be considered in the characterization of the individual patient with primary psychosis aimed at personalization of management. These include positive and negative symptom dimensions, other psychopathological components, onset and course, neurocognition and social cognition, neurodevelopmental indicators; social functioning, quality of life and unmet needs; clinical staging, antecedent and concomitant psychiatric conditions, physical comorbidities, family history, history of obstetric complications, early and recent environmental exposures, protective factors and resilience, and internalized stigma. For each domain, simple assessment instruments are identified that could be considered for use in clinical practice and included in standardized decision tools. A management of primary psychosis is encouraged which takes into account all the available treatment modalities whose efficacy is supported by research evidence, selects and modulates them in the individual patient on the basis of the clinical characterization, addresses the patient’s needs in terms of employment, housing, self-care, social relationships and education, and offers a focus on identity, meaning and resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-33
Number of pages30
JournalWorld Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Primary psychosis
  • environmental exposures
  • family history
  • internalized stigma
  • negative dimension
  • neurocognition
  • obstetric complications
  • personalization of treatment
  • physical comorbidities
  • positive dimension
  • practical needs
  • protective factors
  • psychiatric antecedents
  • psychiatric comorbidities
  • psychosocial interventions
  • recovery
  • resilience
  • schizophrenia
  • social cognition
  • social functioning


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