Get access

Comparison of first-episode and chronic patients diagnosed with schizophrenia: symptoms and childhood trauma


Corresponding author: Professor Zhimin Xue, Department of Psychiatry, the Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha 410011, China. Email:



There has been considerable interest in identifying and addressing the specific needs of early-episode patients diagnosed with schizophrenia in the hope that by addressing such needs early, chronic disabilities can be avoided.


One hundred twenty-eight early-episode and 571 chronic patients were compared on socio-demographic characteristics, clinical symptoms and history of childhood trauma. Symptoms were measured with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), and trauma with the short version of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire.


First-episode patients scored 9.3% higher than chronic patients on the PANSS positive symptom scale and 16.3% lower on the negative symptom scale. More first episode patients reported childhood sexual abuse (P = 0.033); however, fewer reported childhood emotional neglect (P = 0.01). Childhood trauma was associated with positive symptoms, specifically with hallucinations in first-episode patients (r = 0.174; P = 0.049). Moreover, fewer parents of first episode patients were living alone (P = 0.008). On multiple logistic regression, the first-episode patients were younger (odds ratio = 0.92), had higher PANSS positive symptom scores (odds ratio 1.04) and lower negative symptom scores (odds ratio 0.948 recalculate).


More positive symptoms, fewer negative symptoms, less isolated parents and greater risk of childhood sexual abuse might warrant attention in first episode schizophrenia and perhaps should be a focus for the development of targeted interventions.

Get access to the full text of this article