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Tor PC, Poon LY
Correspondence: Dr Tor Phern Chern, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introducion Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic mental illness with a worldwide prevalence of about one percent. It is possible to define at-risk mental states (ARMS) that predict conversion to schizophrenia in up to 40 percent of help-seeking individuals within a year of screening. Treatment of ARMS is controversial due to difficulties with diagnosis and uncertainties of treatment effectiveness. There is currently no consensus among psychiatrists in Singapore or internationally, regarding the diagnosis of ARMS, or its treatment. This survey was conducted to assess current attitudes of Singaporean psychiatrists towards ARMS.
Methods An anonymous survey containing a clinical vignette and questions related to the diagnosis and management of ARMS was sent out to all registered psychiatrists and psychiatric trainees in Singapore.
ResultsThere was a response rate of 62.1 percent (87/140). 60.9 percent of respondents were fully-trained psychiatrists. 44.8 percent versus 43.7 percent of respondents diagnosed ARMS versus psychosis, respectively. 74.4 percent (29/39) of respondents who diagnosed ARMS would treat the patient with active management rather than watchful waiting. 64.4 percent felt that there was no consensus regarding the management of ARMS. There was no significant relationship between responses and age, gender, training or place of practice.
Conclusion There is currently clinical equipoise with regard to both diagnosis and management of ARMS in Singapore. Most psychiatrists would manage ARMS actively rather than with watchful waiting.
Keywords: at-risk mental states, chronic mental illness, clinical equipoise, psychosis, schizophrenia
Singapore Med J 2008; 49(1):37-41.