Diverse definitions of the early course of schizophrenia - a targeted literature review
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AuthorNewton, Richard; Rouleau, Alice; Nylander, Anna-Greta; Loze, Jean-Yves; Resemann, Henrike K.; Steeves, Sara; Crespo Facorro, Benedicto
Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychiatric disorder and patients experience significant comorbidity, especially cognitive and psychosocial deficits, already at the onset of disease. Previous research suggests that treatment during the earlier stages of disease reduces disease burden, and that a longer time of untreated psychosis has a negative impact on treatment outcomes. A targeted literature review was conducted to gain insight into the definitions currently used to describe patients with a recent diagnosis of schizophrenia in the early course of disease ('early' schizophrenia). A total of 483 relevant English-language publications of clinical guidelines and studies were identified for inclusion after searches of MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process, relevant clinical trial databases and Google for records published between January 2005 and October 2015. The extracted data revealed a wide variety of terminology and definitions used to describe patients with 'early' or 'recent-onset' schizophrenia, with no apparent consensus. The most commonly used criteria to define patients with early schizophrenia included experience of their first episode of schizophrenia or disease duration of less than 1, 2 or 5 years. These varied definitions likely result in substantial disparities of patient populations between studies and variable population heterogeneity. Better agreement on the definition of early schizophrenia could aid interpretation and comparison of studies in this patient population and consensus on definitions should allow for better identification and management of schizophrenia patients in the early course of their disease.
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