Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPINET)
What is EPINET?
EPINET (the Early Psychosis Intervention Network) is a broad research initiative aimed at determining how to best provide treatment for individuals 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), a multi-component treatment for early psychosis.
Why is EPINET a priority for NIMH?
The term psychosis describes conditions that affect the mind in which an individual experiences some loss of contact with reality. Left untreated, psychotic symptoms can disrupt school and work, strain family relations, lead to separation from friends, and worsen mental health problems for an individual. Research has shown that early treatment of psychosis symptoms increases the chance of clinical and functional recovery.
Studies have demonstrated that evidence-based interventions can be successfully implemented in community treatment settings and that high-quality services can be maintained over time. Building upon these advances, EPINET is pioneering a learning health care approach to early psychosis intervention, where measurement-based treatment drives practice improvements and scientific discovery.
In 2008, NIMH launched the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) initiative. RAISE research demonstrated the effectiveness of CSC. CSC uses a recovery-oriented, team approach to treating early psychosis that promotes shared decision-making between specialists, the individual experiencing psychosis, and family members, who work together to create a personal treatment plan.
Individuals in RAISE studies who received CSC stayed in treatment longer and experienced greater improvement in their symptoms, interpersonal relationships, and quality of life. They were also more involved in work and school than those who received typical care. RAISE also demonstrated the feasibility of implementing CSC programs in community-based settings.
To build on the RAISE findings and the dramatic expansion of CSC programs nationwide, NIMH launched EPINET in September 2019 and announced the funding of research grants for EPINET studies. Through the awards, the initiative established eight regional scientific hubs connected to multiple community-based CSC programs that endorse measurement-based early psychosis treatment, as well as a national data coordinating center.
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, and sustain long-term recovery. The EPINET National Data Coordinating Center extends and supports the regional hubs’ work by integrating data obtained from the community-based CSC programs and supporting multi-site research to improve early psychosis care. Researchers are using the data collected through EPINET to develop learning health care models for the effective delivery of CSC services and to advance understanding of early psychosis. This will ensure people in CSC programs around the country get the best possible research-based care.
In 2021, EPINET researchers launched a web portal that provides resources for early psychosis researchers, academic and community-based early psychosis care treatment programs, program administrators, individuals experiencing early psychosis, and families. One such resource is the Core Assessment Battery (CAB), a set of standardized measures and individual items that assess key domains of early psychosis symptoms, recovery, and treatment, and can be used for both measurement-based early psychosis care and research. The CAB is publicly available through the EPINET web portal. The EPINET National Data Coordinating Center will soon introduce the EPINET WebCAB, which is designed to serve as a resource for data collection efforts for CSC programs outside of EPINET. The WebCAB extends EPINET benefits to all CSC clinics nationwide by supporting measurement-based early psychosis care.
More Information About EPINET
- EPINET Web Portal
- Research highlight: NIH Initiative Expands Access to Resources for Early Psychosis Treatment and Research
- Press release: NIH Announces Funding Awards for National Early Psychosis Learning Community
- NIMH health topic page: Schizophrenia
- NIMH fact sheet: Understanding Psychosis
- NIMH research project: Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE)
Last Revised: December 2021