The British Journal of Psychiatry


BACKGROUND We present the findings from the three-year follow-up of all first episodes of schizophrenia occurring during a two-year period in Cantabria (in Spain).

AIMS (a) To describe the clinical characteristics of the illness from the early stages of the disease, and (b) to study the long-term psychosocial adjustment and psychopathological evolution of these patients, identifying predictors for the course of the illness.

METHOD Of the original cohort of 86 patients, 76 (88.3%) were fully evaluated at three-year follow-up. Psychiatric assessment was performed (PSE-9 and SANS/SAPS). Social adjustment was evaluated using the Disability Assessment Schedule (DAS). Information regarding the clinical evolution and use of health resources was also gathered.

RESULTS The majority of patients with a first-contact diagnosis of schizophrenia failed to meet the criteria for a CATEGO diagnosis at follow-up. The SANS/SAPS assessments revealed a doubling in the proportion of patients with 'negative schizophrenia'. The pattern of clinical course was also evaluated, with 24 (31.5%) of the patients having a good outcome. Being male and having low social class tended to be associated with poor clinical outcome

CONCLUSIONS The outcome of schizophrenia is less pessimistic than was originally thought.