Long-term follow-up of schizophrenia in 16 countries

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Abstract

An unexpected finding of the International Pilot Study of Schizophrenia, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1967, was that patients in countries outside Europe and the United States have a more favourable short- and medium-term course of the disease than those seen in developed countries. Since then, WHO has intensified its schizophrenia research programme and has initiated a set of international studies that have confirmed these initial findings and explored possible reasons for such differences in the course and outcome of schizophrenia. While such work has provided important findings and has generated additional pertinent hypotheses, it did not explain the differences in outcome. The present paper describes a new initiative in which approximately 2500 subjects involved in previous WHO multicentre schizophrenia studies are being followed up for between 15 and 25 years after initial examination. Nineteen research centres in 16 countries are taking part in this work. The research methodology is described.