BACKGROUND: Treatment approaches for patients with psychosis need major improvement. Our approach to improvement is twofold: target putative causal mechanisms for psychotic experiences that are treatable and also that patients wish treated. This leads to greater treatment engagement and clinical benefit. To inform mental health service provision we assessed the presence of treatable causal mechanisms and patient treatment preferences. METHODS: Patients with non-affective psychosis attending NHS mental health services completed assessments of paranoia, hallucinations, anxious avoidance, worry, self-esteem, insomnia, analytic reasoning, psychological well-being, and treatment preferences. RESULTS: 1809 patients participated. Severe paranoia was present in 53.4% and frequent voices in 48.2%. Of the causal mechanisms, severe worry was present in 67.7%, avoidance at agoraphobic levels in 64.5%, analytic reasoning difficulties in 55.9%, insomnia in 50.1%, poor psychological well-being in 44.3%, strongly negative self-beliefs in 36.6%, and weak positive self-beliefs in 19.2%. Treatment target preferences were: feeling happier (63.2%), worrying less (63.1%), increasing self-confidence (62.1%), increasing activities (59.6%), improving decision-making (56.5%), feeling safer (53.0%), sleeping better (52.3%), and coping with voices (45.3%). Patients with current paranoia and/or hallucinations had higher levels of the causal factors and of wanting these difficulties treated. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with non-affective psychosis have high levels of treatable problems such as agoraphobic avoidance, worry, low self-esteem, and insomnia and they would like these difficulties treated. Successful treatment of these difficulties is also likely to decrease psychotic experiences such as paranoia.
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