Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPINET)
What is EPINET?
The Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPINET) is a broad research initiative. It aims to determine the best way to treat people experiencing symptoms of early psychosis.
Launched in 2019, the initiative continues to expand its reach and now has eight regional hubs in 17 states with more than 100 clinics that provide coordinated specialty care (CSC).
What is psychosis?
Psychosis refers to a collection of symptoms that affect the mind, where there has been some loss of contact with reality. During an episode of psychosis, a person’s thoughts and perceptions are disrupted, and they may have difficulty recognizing what is real and what is not.
Left untreated psychotic symptoms can disrupt school and work, strain family relationships, lead to separation from friends, and make a person’s mental health problems worse.
What is Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC)?
CSC is a recovery-oriented, team approach to treating early psychosis that promotes easy access to care and shared decision-making among specialists, the person experiencing psychosis, and family members.
Specifically, CSC involves multiple components:
- Individual or group psychotherapy is tailored to a person’s recovery goals. Cognitive and behavioral therapy focuses on developing the knowledge and skills necessary to build resilience and cope with aspects of psychosis while maintaining and achieving personal goals.
- Family support and education programs teach family members about psychosis as well as coping, communication, and problem-solving skills.
- Medication management involves health care providers tailoring medication to a person’s specific needs by selecting the appropriate type and dose to help reduce psychosis symptoms.
- Supported employment and education services aim to help individuals return to work or school, using the support of a coach to help people achieve their goals.
- Case management allows people with psychosis to work with a case manager to address practical problems and improve access to needed support services.
Why is EPINET a priority for NIMH?
Research has shown that early treatment of psychosis symptoms increases the chance of clinical and functional recovery.
Studies have also shown it is possible to implement evidence-based interventions in community treatment settings and maintain high-quality services over time.
Building on these advances, EPINET is pioneering a learning health care approach to early psychosis intervention, incorporating measurement-based treatment that promotes scientific discovery and improvements in practice.
What is NIMH's role?
Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) initiative
In 2008, NIMH launched the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) initiative.
Research from RAISE demonstrated that coordinated specialty care was more effective than typical care. Individuals in RAISE studies who received CSC stayed in treatment longer and experienced greater improvement in their symptoms, relationships, and quality of life. They were also more involved in work and school than those who received typical care.
RAISE also showed that it was possible to implement coordinated specialty care programs in real-world, community-based settings.
To build on the RAISE findings and the dramatic expansion of CSC programs nationwide, NIMH launched EPINET and funded research grants for EPINET studies.
Through the awards, the initiative established regional scientific hubs connected to multiple community-based CSC programs that endorse measurement-based early psychosis treatment.
The regional hubs are pursuing research to address key questions in first-episode psychosis treatment, including strategies to:
- Speed access to early intervention services
- Mitigate suicide risk factors
- Prevent substance abuse and addiction
- Sustain long-term recovery
In addition to the regional hubs, the grants also established a national data coordinating center. The EPINET National Data Coordinating Center extends and supports the regional hubs’ work by integrating data from the community-based CSC programs and supporting multi-site research to improve early psychosis care.
Researchers are using data collected through EPINET to develop learning health care models that effectively deliver CSC services and advance understanding of early psychosis. These efforts aim to help people in CSC programs around the country get access to the best possible research-based care.
In 2021, EPINET researchers launched a website that provides resources for early psychosis researchers; academic and community-based early psychosis care treatment programs; program administrators; individuals experiencing early psychosis; and families.
Two key resources available on the EPINET website include:
- The Core Assessment Battery (CAB) is a set of standardized measures and individual items that assess key domains of early psychosis symptoms, recovery, and treatment and can be used for measurement-based early psychosis care and research.
- The Web-Based Core Assessment Battery (WebCAB) is a resource for data collection efforts for CSC programs outside of EPINET. WebCAB supports measurement-based early psychosis care by extending EPINET benefits to CSC clinics nationwide.
Learn more about EPINET
Science news and research highlights
- NIH Initiative Expands Access to Resources for Early Psychosis Treatment and Research
- NIH Announces Funding Awards for National Early Psychosis Learning Community
Last Reviewed: November 2022