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Schizophr Bull. 2010 Jul;36(4):788-99. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbn167. Epub 2008 Dec 18.

Periods of recovery in deficit syndrome schizophrenia: a 20-year multi-follow-up longitudinal study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.


Periods of recovery were examined in patients with and without deficit syndrome schizophrenia. Fifty-six patients with schizophrenia were studied, 39 of whom were divided into deficit and nondeficit syndrome schizophrenia subtypes using a proxy method. We also studied 39 nonpsychotic depressive comparison patients. Patients were evaluated as part of the Chicago Follow-up Study, which prospectively examined patients at regular intervals over a 20-year period. Using standardized instruments, patients were evaluated for the deficit syndrome, global recovery, rehospitalization, social dysfunction, occupational disability, and symptom presentation. Recovery was examined at 6 time points measured at 2-, 4.5-, 7.5-, 10-, 15-, and 20-year postindex hospitalization. Cumulatively, over the 20-year period, 13% of patients classified as meeting criteria for the deficit syndrome showed 1 or more 1-year periods of global recovery, in comparison to 63% of nondeficit schizophrenia patients and 77% of depressed patient controls. Results indicate that the deficit syndrome represents a persistently impaired subsample of schizophrenia patients, with continuous social, occupational, and symptom impairment. In contrast, nondeficit syndrome schizophrenia patients showed at least some periods of remission or recovery, with the likelihood of these periods increasing as they became older. Findings provide further support for the validity of the deficit syndrome concept and suggest that deficit status is characterized by a more persistently impaired course of illness and particularly poor long-term prognosis.

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