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Keywords:

  • schizophrenia;
  • first episode;
  • hospitalization;
  • antipsychotics;
  • antidepressants;
  • polypharmacy

Nielsen J, le Quach P, Emborg C, Foldager L, Correll CU. 10-Year trends in the treatment and outcomes of patients with first-episode schizophrenia.

Objective:  The first episode of schizophrenia is a critical period for illness course and outcomes. We aimed to investigate treatments and outcomes during the first year after the diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Method:  Pharmacoepidemiologic inception cohort study of all newly diagnosed patients with schizophrenia in Denmark (n = 13 600) 1996–2005.

Results:  From 1996 to 2005, the mean age at first diagnosis decreased significantly (29.2–26.1 years), more patients received antipsychotics (67.2–80.7%, annual OR = 1.07, CI: 1.06–1.09, P < 0.001) and antipsychotic polypharmacy for >4 months (16.7–37.1%, OR = 1.14, CI: 1.12–1.57, P < 0.001). The antipsychotic defined daily dosage (DDD) doubled (150–332 DDD, P < 0.001), use of antidepressants (24.3–40.6%, P < 0.001). Bed days [89.9 days (CI: 81.8–98.8) to 71.8 days, CI: 63.7–80.8, P < 0.0001] decreased, whereas outpatient contacts [10.2 (CI: 9.5–11.0) to 21.4 (CI: 19.9–21.0), P < 0.0001] doubled.

Conclusion:  Between 1996 and 2005, there was an earlier recognition of schizophrenia, intensified outpatient treatment, increased use and dosing of antipsychotics and antidepressants, but also more antipsychotic polypharmacy.