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Singapore Med J. 2012 Jul;53(7):463-7.

First presentation psychosis among the elderly in Singapore.

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Department of Psychological Medicine, Changi General Hospital, 2 Simei Street 3, Singapore 529889.



In tandem with our ageing population, it is observed there is a growing trend of elderly patients presenting for the first time with psychotic symptoms. Clinical experience suggests differences in the phenomenology of late-onset psychosis in our Asian context compared to studies done in the West. This study aimed to analyse the characteristics and psychopathology of first presentation psychosis in our local elderly and to determine the treatment outcome over a 12-month period.


A total of 64 subjects with first presentation psychosis were consecutively recruited. Those with a non-affective, non-organic psychotic disorder were evaluated using the Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale, the Clinical Global Impression Scale, Mini-Mental State Examination and the Beck's Depression Inventory.


Of the 64 subjects recruited, 55 were enrolled in the study. 59.3% (n = 32) of the subjects were diagnosed to be suffering from very-late-onset schizophrenia-like psychosis, followed by delusional disorder in 31.5% (n = 17). The remaining 11.1% (n = 6) were diagnosed to have late-onset schizophrenia. The sample showed a high preponderance of women, with 88.9% reporting persecutory-type delusions. The majority of them were married and 80% of the subjects were living with relatives. Treatment was effective in ameliorating symptoms, but there was a high loss to follow-up of male subjects (81.8%).


This descriptive study found sociodemographic and phenomenological similarities to other studies of late-onset psychosis in the West, except that social isolation and partition delusions were not prominent.

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