Prognosis of schizophrenia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Nash, a US mathematician, began showing signs of paranoid schizophrenia during his college years. Despite having stopped taking his prescribed medication, Nash continued his studies and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1994. His life was depicted in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind.

The prognosis of schizophrenia is varied at the individual level. In general it has great human and economics costs.[1] It results in a decreased life expectancy of 12–15 years primarily due to its association with obesity, little exercise, and smoking, while an increased rate of suicide plays a lesser role.[1] These differences in life expectancy have increased between the 1970s and 1990s,[2] and between the 1990s and 2000s has not substantially changed in a health system with open access to care (Finland).[3]

Schizophrenia is a major cause of disability. Approximately three quarters of people with schizophrenia have ongoing disability with relapses.[4] Still some people do recover completely and additional numbers function well in society.[5][6]

Most people with schizophrenia live independently with community support.[1] In people with a first episode of psychosis a good long-term outcome occurs in 42% of cases, an intermediate outcome in 35% of cases, and a poor outcome in 27% of cases.[7] Outcome for schizophrenia appear better in the developing than the developed world.[8] These conclusions however have been questioned.[9][10]

There is a higher than average suicide rate associated with schizophrenia. This has been cited at 10%, but a more recent analysis of studies and statistics places the estimate at 4.9%, most often occurring in the period following onset or first hospital admission.[11] Several times more attempt suicide.[12] There are a variety of reasons and risk factors.[13][14]


After long-term follow-up half of people with schizophrenia have a favourable outcome while 16% have a delayed recovery after an early unremitting course. More usually, the course in the first two years predicted the long-term course. Early social intervention was also related to a better outcome. The findings were held as important in moving patients, careers and clinicians away from the prevalent belief of the chronic nature of the condition.[15]

This outcome on average however is worse than for other psychotic and otherwise psychiatric disorders though a moderate number of people with schizophrenia were seen to remit and remain well, some of these without need for maintenance medication.[16]

A clinical study using strict recovery criteria (concurrent remission of positive and negative symptoms and adequate social and vocational functioning continuously for two years) found a recovery rate of 14% within the first five years.[17] A 5-year community study found that 62% showed overall improvement on a composite measure of clinical and functional outcomes.[18]

Defining recovery[edit]

Rates are not always comparable across studies because exact definitions of remission and recovery have not been widely established. A "Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group" has proposed standardized remission criteria involving "improvements in core signs and symptoms to the extent that any remaining symptoms are of such low intensity that they no longer interfere significantly with behavior and are below the threshold typically utilized in justifying an initial diagnosis of schizophrenia".[19]

Standardized recovery criteria have also been proposed by a number of different researchers, with the stated DSM definitions of a "complete return to premorbid levels of functioning” or "complete return to full functioning" seen as inadequate, impossible to measure, incompatible with the variability in how society defines normal psychosocial functioning, and contributing to self-fulfilling pessimism and stigma.[20] Some mental health professionals may have quite different basic perceptions and concepts of recovery than individuals with the diagnosis, including those in the Psychiatric survivors movement.[21]

One notable limitation of nearly all the research criteria is failure to address the person's own evaluations and feelings about their life. Schizophrenia and recovery often involve a continuing loss of self-esteem, alienation from friends and family, interruption of school and career, and social stigma, "experiences that cannot just be reversed or forgotten".[22] An increasingly influential model defines recovery as a process, similar to being "in recovery" from drug and alcohol problems, and emphasizes a personal journey involving factors such as hope, choice, empowerment, social inclusion and achievement.[22]


Several factors have been associated with a better overall prognosis: Being female, rapid (vs. insidious) onset of symptoms, older age of first episode, predominantly positive (rather than negative) symptoms, presence of mood symptoms, and good pre-illness functioning.[23][24] The strengths and internal resources of the individual concerned, such as determination or psychological resilience, have also been associated with better prognosis.[16]

The attitude and level of support from people in the individual's life can have a significant impact; research framed in terms of the negative aspects of this—the level of critical comments, hostility, and intrusive or controlling attitudes, termed high 'expressed emotion'—has consistently indicated links to relapse.[25] Most research on predictive factors is correlational in nature, however, and a clear cause-and-effect relationship is often difficult to establish.


The relationship between violent acts and schizophrenia is a contentious topic. Current research indicates that the percentage of people with schizophrenia who commit violent acts is higher than the percentage of people without any disorder, but lower than is found for disorders such as alcoholism, and the difference is reduced or not found in same-neighbourhood comparisons when related factors are taken into account, notably sociodemographic variables and substance misuse.[26] Studies have indicated that 5% to 10% of those charged with murder in Western countries have a schizophrenia spectrum disorder.[27][28][29]

The occurrence of psychosis in schizophrenia has sometimes been linked to a higher risk of violent acts. Findings on the specific role of delusions or hallucinations have been inconsistent, but have focused on delusional jealousy, perception of threat and command hallucinations. It has been proposed that a certain type of individual with schizophrenia may be most likely to offend, characterized by a history of educational difficulties, low IQ, conduct disorder, early-onset substance misuse and offending prior to diagnosis.[27]

Individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are often the victims of violent crime—at least 14 times more often than they are perpetrators.[30][31] Another consistent finding is a link to substance misuse, particularly alcohol,[32] among the minority who commit violent acts. Violence by or against individuals with schizophrenia typically occurs in the context of complex social interactions within a family setting,[33] and is also an issue in clinical services[34] and in the wider community.[35]


Numerous international studies have demonstrated favorable long-term outcomes for around half of those diagnosed with schizophrenia, with substantial variation between individuals and regions.[36] One retrospective study found that about a third of people made a full recovery, about a third showed improvement but not a full recovery, and a third remained ill.[37]

A clinical study using strict recovery criteria (concurrent remission of positive and negative symptoms and adequate social and vocational functioning continuously for two years) found a recovery rate of 14% within the first five years.[17] A 5-year community study found that 62% showed overall improvement on a composite measure of symptomatic, clinical and functional outcomes.[38] Rates are not always comparable across studies because an exact definition of what constitutes recovery has not been widely accepted, although standardized criteria have been suggested.[39]

The World Health Organization conducted two long-term follow-up studies involving more than 2,000 people suffering from schizophrenia in different countries. These studies found patients have much better long-term outcomes in developing countries (India, Colombia and Nigeria) than in developed countries (USA, UK, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Japan, and Russia),[40] despite the fact that antipsychotic drugs are typically not widely available in poorer countries, raising questions about the effectiveness of such drug-based treatments. On its face, psychiatric medication itself may be causing the worse Western-society outcomes. Large-scale, randomized, blinded studies of alternatives are warranted.[41]

In many non-Western societies, schizophrenia may only be treated with more informal, community-led methods. Multiple international surveys by the World Health Organization over several decades have indicated that the outcome for people diagnosed with schizophrenia in non-Western countries is on average better there than for people in the West.[42] Many clinicians and researchers hypothesize that this difference is due to relative levels of social connectedness and acceptance,[43] although further cross-cultural studies are seeking to clarify the findings.

Several factors are associated with a better prognosis: female gender, acute (vs. insidious) onset of symptoms, older age of first episode, predominantly positive (rather than negative) symptoms, presence of mood symptoms and good premorbid functioning.[23][24] Most studies done on this subject, however, are correlational in nature, and a clear cause-and-effect relationship is difficult to establish. Evidence is also consistent that negative attitudes towards individuals with schizophrenia can have a significant adverse impact, especially within the individual's family. Family members' critical comments, hostility, authoritarian and intrusive or controlling attitudes (termed high 'expressed emotion' or 'EE' by researchers) have been found to correlate with a higher risk of relapse in schizophrenia across cultures.[25]


The prevalence of schizophrenia in adults age 65 and older ranges from 0.1–0.5%.[44] Aging is associated with exacerbation of schizophrenia symptoms.[45] Positive symptoms tend to lessen with age, but negative symptoms and cognitive impairments continue to worsen.[45][46][47]

Older adults with schizophrenia are prone to extrapyramidal side effects, anticholinergic toxicity, and sedation due to increased body fat, decreased total body water, and decrease muscle mass.[47][48] Older adults with late-onset schizophrenia usually take half of the typical dose for older adults with early-onset schizophrenia. Continual drug treatment is common for older adults with schizophrenia and the dose may increase with age.[48]

There seem to be gender differences regarding the impact of aging on schizophrenia. Men with schizophrenia tend to have more severe symptoms in the initial stage of the disorder, but gradually improve as they age. However, women with schizophrenia tend to have milder symptoms initially, and progress to more severe symptoms as they age.[46]

The low likelihood of being married and high possibility of outliving their parents and/or siblings may lead to social isolation as one ages.[49][50]


  1. ^ a b c van Os J, Kapur S (August 2009). "Schizophrenia". Lancet. 374 (9690): 635–45. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60995-8. PMID 19700006.
  2. ^ Saha S, Chant D, McGrath J. A systematic review of mortality in schizophrenia: is the differential mortality gap worsening over time?. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry. 2007;64(10):1123–31. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.64.10.1123. PMID 17909124.
  3. ^ Chwastiak LA, Tek C. The unchanging mortality gap for people with schizophrenia. Lancet. 2009;374(9690):590–2. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61072-2. PMID 19595448.
  4. ^ Smith T, Weston C, Lieberman J. Schizophrenia (maintenance treatment). Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(4):338–9. PMID 20704164.
  5. ^ Warner R (July 2009). "Recovery from schizophrenia and the recovery model". Curr Opin Psychiatry. 22 (4): 374–80. doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e32832c920b. PMID 19417668.
  6. ^ Helman DS (Nov 2016). "Schizophrenia is normal: my journey through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery". Schizophrenia Bulletin. 42 (6): 1309–11. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbu131. PMC 5049512. PMID 25181987.
  7. ^ Menezes NM, Arenovich T, Zipursky RB (October 2006). "A systematic review of longitudinal outcome studies of first-episode psychosis". Psychol Med. 36 (10): 1349–62. doi:10.1017/S0033291706007951. PMID 16756689.
  8. ^ Isaac M, Chand P, Murthy P. Schizophrenia outcome measures in the wider international community. Br J Psychiatry Suppl. 2007;50:s71–7. doi:10.1192/bjp.191.50.s71. PMID 18019048.
  9. ^ Cohen A, Patel V, Thara R, Gureje O. Questioning an axiom: better prognosis for schizophrenia in the developing world?. Schizophr Bull. 2008;34(2):229–44. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbm105. PMID 17905787.
  10. ^ Burns J. Dispelling a myth: developing world poverty, inequality, violence and social fragmentation are not good for outcome in schizophrenia. Afr J Psychiatry (Johannesbg). 2009;12(3):200–5. doi:10.4314/ajpsy.v12i3.48494. PMID 19894340.
  11. ^ Palmer BA, Pankratz VS, Bostwick JM. The lifetime risk of suicide in schizophrenia: a reexamination. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2005;62(3):247–53. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.3.247. PMID 15753237.
  12. ^ Radomsky ED, Haas GL, Mann JJ, Sweeney JA. Suicidal behavior in patients with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry. 1 October 1999;156(10):1590–5. doi:10.1176/ajp.156.10.1590. PMID 10518171.
  13. ^ Caldwell CB, Gottesman II. Schizophrenics kill themselves too: a review of risk factors for suicide. Schizophr Bull. 1990;16(4):571–89. doi:10.1093/schbul/16.4.571. PMID 2077636.
  14. ^ Dalby JT, Williams RJ. Depression in schizophrenics. New York: Plenum Press; 1989. ISBN 0-306-43240-4.
  15. ^ Harrison G, Hopper K, Craig T, et al.. Recovery from psychotic illness: a 15- and 25-year international follow-up study. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2001 [Retrieved 2008-07-04];178:506–17. doi:10.1192/bjp.178.6.506. PMID 11388966.
  16. ^ a b Jobe TH, Harrow M. Long-term outcome of patients with schizophrenia: a review [PDF]. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 2005 [Retrieved 2008-07-05];50(14):892–900. doi:10.1177/070674370505001403. PMID 16494258.
  17. ^ a b Robinson DG, Woerner MG, McMeniman M, Mendelowitz A, Bilder RM. Symptomatic and functional recovery from a first episode of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2004 [Retrieved 2008-07-04];161(3):473–9. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.161.3.473. PMID 14992973.
  18. ^ Harvey CA, Jeffreys SE, McNaught AS, Blizard RA, King MB. The Camden Schizophrenia Surveys III: Five-Year Outcome of a Sample of Individuals From a Prevalence Survey and the Importance of Social Relationships. International Journal of Social Psychiatry. 2007 [archived 2007-09-21; Retrieved 2008-07-04];53(4):340–356. doi:10.1177/0020764006074529. PMID 17703650.
  19. ^ Andreasen NC, Carpenter WT, Kane JM, Lasser RA, Marder SR, Weinberger DR. Remission in schizophrenia: proposed criteria and rationale for consensus. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 2005 [Retrieved 2008-07-07];162(3):441–9. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.3.441. PMID 15741458.
  20. ^ Liberman RP, Kopelowicz A. Recovery From Schizophrenia: A Concept in Search of Research. Psychiatric Services. 2005 [archived 2012-07-19; Retrieved 2008-07-07];56(6):735–742. doi:10.1176/ PMID 15939952.
  21. ^ Davidson L, Schmutte T, Dinzeo T, Andres-Hyman R. Remission and recovery in schizophrenia: practitioner and patient perspectives. Schizophrenia Bulletin. 2008 [Retrieved 2008-07-07];34(1):5–8. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbm122. PMID 17984297. PMC 2632379.
  22. ^ a b Bellack AS (July 2006). "Scientific and Consumer Models of Recovery in Schizophrenia: Concordance, Contrasts, and Implications". Schizophrenia Bulletin. 32 (3): 432–42. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbj044. PMC 2632241. PMID 16461575.
  23. ^ a b Davidson L, McGlashan TH. The varied outcomes of schizophrenia. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 1997;42(1):34–43. PMID 9040921.
  24. ^ a b Lieberman JA, Koreen AR, Chakos M, Sheitman B, Woerner M, Alvir JM, Bilder R (1996). "Factors influencing treatment response and outcome of first-episode schizophrenia: implications for understanding the pathophysiology of schizophrenia". Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 57 (Suppl 9): 5–9. PMID 8823344.
  25. ^ a b Bebbington P, Kuipers L. The predictive utility of expressed emotion in schizophrenia: an aggregate analysis. Psychological Medicine. 1994;24(3):707–18. doi:10.1017/S0033291700027860. PMID 7991753.
  26. ^ Violence and schizophrenia:
  27. ^ a b Mullen PE. Schizophrenia and violence: from correlations to preventive strategies. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. 2006 [Retrieved 2008-07-04];12:239–248. doi:10.1192/apt.12.4.239.
  28. ^ Simpson AI, McKenna B, Moskowitz A, Skipworth J, Barry-Walsh J. Homicide and mental illness in New Zealand, 1970–2000. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2004 [Retrieved 2008-07-04];185:394–8. doi:10.1192/bjp.185.5.394. PMID 15516547.
  29. ^ Fazel S, Grann M. Psychiatric morbidity among homicide offenders: a Swedish population study. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2004 [Retrieved 2008-07-04];161(11):2129–31. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.161.11.2129. PMID 15514419.
  30. ^ Brekke JS, Prindle C, Bae SW, Long JD. Risks for individuals with schizophrenia who are living in the community. Psychiatric Services. 2001 [Retrieved 2008-07-04];52(10):1358–66. doi:10.1176/ PMID 11585953.
  31. ^ Fitzgerald PB, de Castella AR, Filia KM, Filia SL, Benitez J, Kulkarni J. Victimization of patients with schizophrenia and related disorders. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 2005;39(3):169–74. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1614.2005.01539.x. PMID 15701066.
  32. ^ Walsh E, Gilvarry C, Samele C, et al.. Predicting violence in schizophrenia: a prospective study. Schizophrenia Research. 2004 [Retrieved 2008-07-04];67(2–3):247–52. doi:10.1016/S0920-9964(03)00091-4. PMID 14984884.
  33. ^ Solomon PL, Cavanaugh MM, Gelles RJ. Family violence among adults with severe mental illness: a neglected area of research. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. 2005 [Retrieved 2008-07-04];6(1):40–54. doi:10.1177/1524838004272464. PMID 15574672.[permanent dead link]{subscription required)
  34. ^ Chou KR, Lu RB, Chang M. Assaultive behavior by psychiatric in-patients and its related factors. J Nurs Res. 2001;9(5):139–51. doi:10.1097/01.JNR.0000347572.60800.00. PMID 11779087.
  35. ^ Lögdberg B, Nilsson LL, Levander MT, Levander S. Schizophrenia, neighbourhood, and crime. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 2004;110(2):92–7. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0047.2004.00322.x. PMID 15233709.
  36. ^ Harrison G, Hopper K, Craig T, et al. (June 2001). "Recovery from psychotic illness: a 15- and 25-year international follow-up study". Br J Psychiatry. 178 (6): 506–17. doi:10.1192/bjp.178.6.506. PMID 11388966.
  37. ^ Harding CM, Brooks GW, Ashikaga T, Strauss JS, Breier A (1987). "The Vermont longitudinal study of persons with severe mental illness, II: Long-term outcome of subjects who retrospectively met DSM-III criteria for schizophrenia". American Journal of Psychiatry. 144 (6): 727–35. doi:10.1176/ajp.144.6.727. PMID 3591992.
  38. ^ Harvey C.A.; Jeffreys S.E.; McNaught A.S.; Blizard R.A.; King M.B. (2007). "The Camden Schizophrenia Surveys III: Five-Year Outcome of a Sample of Individuals From a Prevalence Survey and the Importance of Social Relationships". International Journal of Social Psychiatry. 53 (4): 340–356. doi:10.1177/0020764006074529. PMID 17703650.
  39. ^ van Os J, Burns T, Cavallaro R, et al. (February 2006). "Standardized remission criteria in schizophrenia". Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 113 (2): 91–5. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2005.00659.x. PMID 16423159.
  40. ^ Hopper K, Wanderling J (2000). "Revisiting the developed versus developing country distinction in course and outcome in schizophrenia: results from ISoS, the WHO collaborative follow up project. International Study of Schizophrenia". Schizophrenia Bulletin. 26 (4): 835–46. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.schbul.a033498. PMID 11087016.
  41. ^ Helman DS (August 2018). "Schizophrenia remission without medication". Asian Journal of Psychiatry. 36: 108–109. doi:10.1016/j.ajp.2018.07.011. PMID 30059948.
  42. ^ Outcome of schizophrenia: some transcultural observations with particular reference to developing countries.. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1994;244(5):227–35. doi:10.1007/BF02190374. PMID 7893767.
  43. ^ Shankar Vedantam. USA: Washington Post. Social Network's Healing Power Is Borne Out in Poorer Nations; 27 June 2005.
  44. ^ Howard, R., Rabins, P. V., Seeman, M. V., Jeste, D. V., International Late-Onset Schizophrenia Group (2000)."Late-onset schizophrenia and very-late-onset schizophrenia-like psychosis: An international consensus". The American Journal of Psychiatry, 157(2), 172-178.
  45. ^ a b Kurtz, M. M.; Moberg, P. J.; Gur, R. E. (1998). "Aging and schizophrenia". Clinical Geriatrics. 6 (6): 51–60.
  46. ^ a b Karim, S. Overshott; Burns, A. (2005). "Older people with chronic schizophrenia". Aging & Mental Health. 9 (4): 315–324. doi:10.1080/13607860500114167. PMID 16019287.
  47. ^ a b Rosenberg, I.; Woo, D.; Roane, D. (2009). "The aging patient with chronic schizophrenia". Annals of Long Term Care. 17 (5): 20–24.
  48. ^ a b Wetherell, J. L.; Jeste, D. V. (2004). "Older adults with schizophrenia: Patients are living longer and gaining researchers' attention" (PDF). ElderCare. 3 (2): 8–11.
  49. ^ Csernansky, J. G. (2002). "Treating older adults with schizophrenia: Its cumulative effect challenge the interdisciplinary team" (PDF). ElderCare. 6: 5–7.
  50. ^ Dixon, C. M. (2009). "The unmet needs of those aging with schizophrenia". Occupational Therapy Now. 11 (1): 4–5.