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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).
(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.
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.
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.
The outcome of schizophrenia is less pessimistic than was originally thought.
The aim is to examine, in first episodes of schizophrenia the appropriateness of the simple two-dimensional model of schizophrenia (‘negative’ and ‘positive’ dimensions) and more complex variants.
All patients with a first episode of schizophrenia who, over a two-year period, made contact with any of the public mental health services of the autonomous region of Cantabria in northern Spain were investigated. The psychiatric evaluation included, among other instruments, the Present State Examination (PSE–9), and the scales for the assessment of the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ symptoms of schizophrenia (SAPS and SANS respectively). The dimensionality of the SAPS/SANS item scores and sub-scales was examined through the use of principal component analysis.
The principal component solution that best fits the data obtained with the initial SANS/SAPS sub-scales reflects the existence of three different (‘negative’ ‘positive’, ‘disorganisation’) factors. The strategy adopted of repeating the analysis after extracting the principal components of the original sub-scales, revealed that although the nature and item composition of the initial ‘negative’ and ‘disorganisation’ factors were in general confirmed, the ‘positive’ dimension presented a more complex structure with at least two ‘positive’ (‘Non-Paranoid’ and ‘Paranoid’) independent factors.
The psychopathological structure of the early stages of schizophrenia, as evaluated by the SANS/SAPS, is characterised by the presence of four dimensions: two ‘positive’, one ‘negative’ and one ‘disorganisation‘.
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