Early signs of psychotic relapse in schizophrenia

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Abstract

Background People with schizophrenia are at high risk of psychotic relapse.The purpose of this study was to evaluate the predictive validity and temporal link of early signs to this.

Methods A study sample of 60 out-patients with schizophrenia was examined every second week over a period of six months. The study design included self-reporting (Early Signs Scale) and objective assessment (General Psychopathology of Positive and Negative Symptom Scale) of behavioural and phenomenological changes (early signs). Criterion cut-off points were based on a comparison to the subjects' individual baseline scores.

Results Twenty-seven subjects (45%) experienced a relapse. Composite increased score (>or= to 10 points) of self-reported/objectively assessed early signs predicted the relapse with a sensitivity of 81% and a specificity of 79%. Thus the predictive validity of early signs of relapse was considerable, particularly self-reporting of early signs of relapse: sensitivity 74% and specificity 79%. The inclusion of objective assessment added only marginally to the prediction. Early signs were detected most often (70%) within the four weeks immediately before the individuals' relapse.

Conclusion Psychotic relapse is most often preceded by early signs.Clinical practice should integrate this knowledge by an ongoing monitoring including self-reporting.

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