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Professor Max Birchwood





WMS - Mental Health and Wellbeing
University of Warwick
WebLink: Google Scholar

Research Interests

My interests include prevention and early intervention in severe mental health problems, particularly as they emerge in young people: 1. The next generation of early intervention psychosis teams; application of the the early intervention in psychosis model across the spectrum of youth mental health. 2.Affective dysregulation in psychosis including depression, social anxiety and PTSD. 3.Developing and testing the cognitive model of voices. My trial of CBT to reduce harmful compliance with commanding hallucinations was published in Lancet Psychiatry and is available here (copy and paste into browser): and the mediation analysis here: 4.Developing collaborative care between primary and secondary care in the management of severe mental illness. 5. School-based early detection and intervention in emerging mental health problems in adolescence, including eating disorders and self-harm.


Max Birchwood pioneered the concept and practice of early intervention in psychosis in the UK and internationally and opened the UK's first Early Intervention in Psychosis service in 1994, informed by his concept of the 'critical period' in psychosis, which he translated into the mental health policy framework for the UK government as part of the NHS 'National Plan'. The service has been replicated with over 140 teams across the country and many internationally. His research on delays in pathways to these services ( ) informed the current wait time standards for early psychosis teams. He leads the national evaluation of these services through the NIHR National EDEN and SUPEREDEN programme grants. Max was given the Richard Wyatt award for 'outstanding contribution to early psychosis research and treatment', by the IEPA ( ). He went on to apply this model to the spectrum of mental health problems affecting youth and was instrumental in developing the Birmingham 0-25yrs service framework combining CAMHS and young adult services ( currently operated by 'Forward Thinking Birmingham) and led the evaluation of this service. He has worked with commissioners in Shropshire and South staffs and Gloucestershire in designing and commissioning similar services and chairs the stakeholder group. The 0-25 framework has been developed now in Coventry, Norfolk, Liverpool, Somerset with further services in the pipeline. He has undertaken leading edge research into the application of CBT to psychosis: his RCTs in acute psychosis (1996; 2000), in reducing harmful compliance with command hallucinations (2004,2013), and in high social disability in early psychosis (2018) and collaborative RCTs in high risk psychosis (2012), are regarded as breakthrough trials and have been incorporated into UK NICE guidelines for schizophrenia. He has also undertaken extensive work developing the cognitive model of 'voices' , particularly the role of appraisals of voices' power and their role in driving affective dysregulation and compliance with command hallucinations. Max heads the mental health theme of the NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands (2014-2019). Max was a member of the NICE guideline development group for schizophrenia in children and young people (2013) and adults (2014). He has published over 220 papers with a Google Scholar H-index of 72.

Research Projects

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  • Wykes, Til, Joyce, Eileen, Velikonja, Tjasa, Watson, Andrew, Aarons, Gregory, Birchwood, M. J., Cella, Matteo, Dopson, Sue, Fowler, David, Greenwood, Kathy, Johnson, Sonia, McCrone, Paul, Perez, Jesus, Pickles, Andrew, Reeder, Clare, Rose, Diana, Singh, Swaran P., Stringer, Dominic, Taylor, Matthew, Taylor, Rumina, Upthegrove, Rachel, 2018. The CIRCuiTS study (Implementation of cognitive remediation in early intervention services) : protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 19 (1), View
  • Radhakrishnan, Muralikrishnan, McCrone, Paul, Lafortune, Louise, Everard, Linda, Fowler, David, Amos, Tim, Freemantle, Nick, Singh, Swaran P., Marshall, Max, Sharma, Vimal, Lavis, Anna, Jones, Peter B., Birchwood, M. J., 2017. Cost-effectiveness of early intervention services for psychosis and fidelity to national policy implementation guidance. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, View
  • Stafford, Megan R., Mayo-Wilson, Evan, Loucas, Christina E., James, Anthony, Hollis, Chris, Birchwood, M. J., Kendall, Tim, 2015. Efficacy and safety of pharmacological and psychological interventions for the treatment of psychosis and schizophrenia in children, adolescents and young adults : a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One, Volume 10 (Number 2), View
  • Birchwood, M. J., Lester, Helen, McCarthy, Linda, Jones, Peter, Fowler, David, Amos, Tim, Freemantle, Nick, Sharma, Vimal, Lavis, Anna, Singh, Swaran P., Marshall, Max, 2014. The UK national evaluation of the development and impact of Early Intervention Services (the National EDEN studies) : study rationale, design and baseline characteristics. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, Volume 8 (Number 1), pp. 59-67, View
  • Birchwood, M. J., Michail, Maria, Meaden, Alan, Tarrier, Nicholas, Lewis, Shon, Wykes, Til, Davies, Linda, Dunn, Graham, Peters, Emmanuelle, 2014. Cognitive behaviour therapy to prevent harmful compliance with command hallucinations (COMMAND) : a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Psychiatry, 1 (1), pp. 23-33, View
  • Birchwood, M. J., Connor, Charlotte, Lester, Helen, Patterson, Paul, Freemantle, Nick, Marshall, M., Fowler, David, Lewis, Shôn, Jones, Peter B., Amos, Tim, Everard, Linda, Singh, Swaran P., 2013. Reducing duration of untreated psychosis : care pathways to early intervention in psychosis services. The British Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 203 (Number 1), pp. 58-64, View
  • Coughlan, H., Cannon, Mary, Shiers, David, Power, Paddy, Barry, C., Bates, T., Birchwood, M. J., Buckley, S., Chambers, D. (David), Duffy, M., Gavin, B., Healy, C., Keeley, H., Maher, M., Tanti, C., McGorry, Patrick D., 2013. Towards a new paradigm of care : the international declaration on youth mental health. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 7 (2), pp. 103-108, View
  • Thornicroft, Graham, Farrelly, Simone, Szmukler, George, Birchwood, M. J., Waheed, Waquas, Flach, C., Barrett, B., Byford, S., Henderson, C., Sutherby, K., Lester, Helen, Rose, Diana, Dunn, G., Leese, M, Marshall, Max, 2013. Clinical outcomes of joint crisis plans to reduce compulsory treatment for people with psychosis : a randomised controlled trial.. The Lancet, 381 (9878), pp. 1634-1641, View
  • Chisholm, Katharine Elizabeth, Patterson, Paul, Torgerson, Carole, Turner, Erin, Birchwood, M. J., 2012. A randomised controlled feasibility trial for an educational school-based mental health intervention : study protocol. BMC Psychiatry, 12 (1), View
  • Birchwood, M. J., Singh, Swaran P., 2013. Mental health services for young people : matching the service to the need. The British Journal of Psychiatry, Royal College of Psychiatrists, pp. s1-s2, Journal Item, View

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