• care pathways;
  • length of stay;
  • role autonomy;
  • schizophrenia

•  Greater emphasis is being placed on reducing clinical variation in managing patient groups in the reformed National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom (UK).

•  The use of a care pathway to enable greater control over the process and quality of care will be explored for patients suffering from schizophrenia.

•  The paper addresses three main factors for the development of care pathways for people suffering from schizophrenia: predictability of the illness; nature of standardized care; and role autonomy.

•  It is argued that the diagnosis of schizophrenia does not lend itself easily to predicting care and treatment within a care pathway framework. However, a care pathway may bring other benefits, such as standardized care and a greater control over the delivery of care.

•  Development and implementation of hospital care pathways require extensive research. Qualitative research directions are advocated due to the possible difficulties of conducting an experimental study.