International interest is growing in EPINET—the Early Psychosis Intervention Network—established by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (part of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]). The signature program, which helps to advance first episode psychosis (FEP) research and treatment, caught the attention of England, Canada, Australia, and Sweden among other countries following Westat’s presentations on EPINET in July at the 14th International Conference on Early Intervention in Mental Health (IEPA14) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Now Westat researchers are helping these countries learn more about EPINET and the possibilities of international collaboration on data collection and analysis. EPINET has garnered this attention because it is well understood that providing effective services earlier to young people with early psychosis can significantly improve life trajectories for them.
“These 4 countries are interested in EPINET because it is unique and successful,” says Abram Rosenblatt, PhD, Vice President for Behavioral Health and Health Policy who oversees the EPINET National Data Coordinating Center (ENDCC), which Westat established and coordinates. Rosenblatt explains that EPINET links 8 Regional Scientific Hubs, more than 100 early psychosis clinics across 17 states, and the ENDCC through standard clinical measures, uniform data collection methods, data-sharing agreements, and integration of client-level data across service users and clinics. It also partners with clients and their families, clinicians, health care administrators, and scientific experts to improve early psychosis care and conduct large-scale, practice-based research.
“Specifically, we are helping these countries understand how we collect, structure, and harmonize the data, how we use the data to better inform the practice of early psychosis intervention, and how we deal with fragmentation because we don’t have a uniform health system such as the ones that exist in Canada and England,” says Rosenblatt. He adds that the presentations Westat delivered at IEPA14 included, for the first time, details about the process, opportunities, and the challenges Westat faces across a diverse group of regional hubs and programs.
Rosenblatt is hoping that the creation of uniform measures to consolidate data across countries to advance FEP work is not too far in the future, adding that there is an international movement around this issue and “EPINET is an important part of this movement.”
Rosenblatt’s presentation at IEPA14 focused on the development of the Core Assessment Battery (CAB), which is the common data collection instrument used by over 100 EPINET FEP programs. He described the evolution of the CAB, the development of the web-based CAB, the virtual desktop for analyzing consolidated CAB data known as the Analyst Zone, and the shortened CAB (MiniCAB), which is a practical option for adoption by EPINET-affiliated programs in the community.
Also presenting was Westat’s Sushmita Shoma Ghose, PhD, an Associate Director for Behavioral Health and Health Policy. She highlighted the milestones and factors that marked the growth of the early psychosis programs in the U.S. and described their characteristics. She also emphasized that every state in the U.S. has a plan for supporting FEP programs, and over 350 programs currently operate across the nation.
Preethy George, PhD, a Westat Principal Research Associate, delivered the third presentation focused on the data from the EPINET Program Level Core Assessment Battery (PL-CAB), administered annually to EPINET FEP programs. The PL-CAB collects information on the number of clinicians working with clients, program funding, services offered, enrollment criteria, and the program’s treatment model. This information, she said, can be combined with client data collected in the Core Assessment Battery (CAB) to help define which program factors make a difference in client outcomes.
Rosenblatt says he welcomes more international interest in EPINET and will continue to work towards collecting a common set of data elements across countries. “This will enable EPINET researchers to increase the statistical power of analyses to answer important treatment questions and inform the delivery of care,” he adds.
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