Objectives: Psychiatric hospitalisation rates in Ireland have been high. Recent studies indicate that this is not a consequence of raised incidence. This study explored the possibility that poor outcome may have been responsible for this high hospitalisation prevalence.
Method: Through participation in the WHO Study, Determinants of Outcome of Severe Mental Disorders (DOSMeD), we followed up a cohort of 67 first-onset schizophrenic patients over 15 years to determine symptomatic and functional outcomes and to compare these with outcomes of the cohorts recruited to the International Study of Schizophrenia (ISoS).
Results: Thirty-seven (55%) of the original 67 were successfully followed up over 15 years and, of these, 43% were continuously psychotic for most of the period; a similar proportion had recurrent episodes of illness; two-thirds of subjects had moderate to severe symptoms for most of the time; and, in terms of functional outcome, over four-fifths were unemployed at follow-up.
Conclusions: Outcome for the majority of followed-up patients was poor in symptomatic and functional terms. While this outcome was one of the poorest among the DOSMeD groups the question whether functional psychotic illness outcome is inherently poorer in Ireland than elsewhere remains unanswered. The high rate of attrition (45%) from the group during the follow-up period vitiated interpretation of outcome overall. The high number of suicides among the group was noteworthy.