Summary of Findings:

Schizophrenia in Developing Countries

  • The average lifetime risk of schizophrenia is about 1 percent. Compared to its incidence and prevalence, the social and economic costs of schizophrenia are disproportionately high. The condition causes greater chronic disability than any other mental disorder, in part because of its early age of onset and the stigma of “insanity.”

  • In both developed and developing countries, schizophrenia is associated with excess mortality from a variety of causes associated with poor self-care, inadequate nutrition, heavy smoking, and medical neglect. At least part of this excess mortality is preventable.

  • A high proportion of better outcomes for schizophrenia in developing countries has been reported by numerous investigators. The reasons for this are unknown, but may involve interactions between specific genetic and environmental factors. Research on this topic could have fundamental implications for the management and treatment of schizophrenia in both developing and developed countries.

  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses can be controlled with a variety of treatments that offer significant returns in terms of symptom improvement, quality of life, and reintegration into the community. The choice of an antipsychotic therapeutic agent, however, must involve a balance between several potentially conflicting factors: clinical efficacy, profile and incidence of adverse effects, acceptability and likelihood of treatment adherence, and cost-effectiveness.

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