Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Predicting the long-term outcome of schizophrenia

G. Harrisona1 c1, T. Croudacea1, P. Masona1, C. Glazebrooka1 and I. Medleya1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Nottingham


Predictors of long-term (13 year) outcome of schizophrenia are reported for a representative cohort of ‘treated incidence’ patients ascertained on their first contact with Nottingham psychiatric services between 1978–80. An initial (baseline) model including previously reported predictors of 2-year outcome (age, gender, ever married, acuteness of onset) and length of untreated illness was used to predict a range of outcome measures covering the domains of disability, psychopathology, hospitalization, employment, social activity, and global outcome. This model demonstrated significant prognostic ability across all non-hospitalization outcomes under both ICD-10 and ICD-9 diagnoses of schizophrenia, but was attenuated under broad (ICD-9 and CATEGO S, P or O) and restrictive (S+) diagnostic classifications. Female gender predicted more favourable outcome under all diagnostic classifications except S+. In an extended analysis, the addition of initial 2-year course type substantially increased the prognostic ability of the model under all diagnostic classifications and enabled over 30% of the variance in global ratings of disability and symptoms to be predicted. In this extended model female gender predicted more favourable outcome over and above the effect of course type, across most domains under ICD-10, and for disability and psychopathology under other diagnostic classifications. The inclusion of measures of psychopathology at the time of first assessment, pre-morbid functioning, and duration of index admission conferred only marginal additional predictive ability for respective outcomes in the domains of psychopathology, social activity, employment and hospitalization. Hospitalization during the past year was the most difficult outcome to predict under any model suggesting that resource utilization represents the ‘administrative outcome’ of schizophrenia and serves as a poor proxy for broader concerns in the era of community care. These data demonstrate that key demographic variables and the mode of onset influence the long-term course of schizophrenia, but that early course type is a particularly strong predictor.


c1 Address for correspondence: Professor Glynn Harrison, Department of Psychiatry, University of Nottingham Professorial Unit, Duncan Macmillan House, Porchester Road, Nottingham, NG3 6AA.