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Prediction of Remission as a Combination of Symptomatic and Functional Remission and Adequate Subjective Well-Being in 2960 Patients With Schizophrenia

J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67:1690-1697

Objective: Recently, the Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group proposed symptomatic remission criteria and pointed to the lack of data regarding functional remission and quality of life in schizophrenia. This post hoc analysis of data from German patients in the Schizophrenia Outpatient Health Outcomes study assessed rates and predictors of symptomatic and functional remission as well as adequate subjective well-being/quality of life in a large cohort of patients with schizophrenia.

Method: Data were collected in an observational 24-month follow-up study of 2960 patients with DSM-IV-defined schizophrenia recruited between January and December 2001. Complete remission required that patients achieved symptomatic remission mirroring the Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group criteria, functional remission, and a level of adequate subjective well-being over at least 6 months.

Results: At endpoint, 47.2% of the patients achieved symptomatic remission, 26.6% achieved functional remission, and 42.2% achieved adequate subjective well-being. At endpoint, 12.8% were in complete remission. In 35.1% of patients, none of the 3 remission criteria were achieved. Only 8.7% of early nonremitted cases achieved remission at endpoint. Each single remission component as well as complete remission was mainly predicted by early remission within the first 3 months. First-line treatment with atypical antipsychotics increased the likelihood of complete remission compared to conventional antipsychotics.

Conclusions: Despite advances in pharmacologic and psychosocial treatments in schizophrenia, close to 90% of the patients in this study did not fulfill the combined remission criteria. This was in part attributable to the low functional remission rate, particularly the low employment rate. The finding that the course of the disorder depends on early outcome not only in previously untreated but also in more chronically ill patients points toward a critical "window of opportunity" in the course of treatment.