BACKGROUND: Reducing hospitalisation and length of stay (LOS) in hospital following first episode psychosis (FEP) is important, yet reliable measures of these outcomes and their moderators are lacking. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the proportion of FEP cases who were hospitalised after their first contact with services and the LOS in a hospital during follow-up.

METHODS: Studies were identified from a systematic search across major electronic databases from inception to October 2017. Random effects meta-analyses and meta-regression analyses were conducted.

RESULTS: 81 longitudinal studies encompassing data for 23 280 FEP patients with an average follow-up length of 7 years were included. 55% (95% CI 50.3-60.5%) of FEP cases were hospitalised at least once during follow-up with the pooled average LOS of 116.7 days (95% CI 95.1-138.3). Older age of illness onset and being in a stable relationship were associated with a lower proportion of people who were hospitalised. While the proportion of hospitalised patients has not decreased over time, LOS has, with the sharpest reduction in the latest time period. The proportion of patients hospitalised during follow-up was highest in Australia and New Zealand (78.4%) compared to Europe (58.1%) and North America (48.0%); and lowest in Asia (32.5%). Black ethnicity and longer duration of untreated psychosis were associated with longer LOS; while less severe psychotic symptoms at baseline were associated with shorter LOS.

CONCLUSION: One in two FEP cases required hospitalisation at least once during a 7-year follow-up with an average length of hospitalisation of 4 months during this period. LOS has declined over time, particularly in those countries in which it was previously longest.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Medicine
Early online date6 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 May 2019


  • First episode psychosis
  • follow-up
  • hospitalisation
  • inpatient
  • length of stay
  • outcome
  • schizophrenia


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