Incidence of schizophrenia does not vary with economic status of the country

Evidence from a systematic review
  • Sukanta Saha
  • Joy Welham
  • David Chant
  • John McGrath



A recent systematic review found that the prevalence of schizophrenia was lower in developing nations compared to developed nations. However, there is a lack of information about the association between economic status and the incidence of schizophrenia. The aim of this study was to examine the association between economic status and the underlying incidence of schizophrenia based on a recently published systematic review of the incidence of schizophrenia.


The analyses were based on 167 discrete incidence rates from 52 studies. Nations were divided into three categories according to per capita gross national product. Based on these categories, we compared the incidence rates for schizophrenia when adjusted for within-study variation.


The median (and 10–90% quantiles) incidence rates per 100,000 persons for Least Developed Countries (three studies), Emerging Economies (nine studies), and Developed Countries (42 studies) were 20.0 (0.4–35.0), 11.0 (5.0–26.0) and 16.0 (8.0–48.0) respectively. There was no significant difference in incidence rates between these groups.


While there is a lack of information on the incidence of schizophrenia in the developing world, there is no evidence to suggest that the incidence of schizophrenia varies by economic status. In light of the evidence that the prevalence of schizophrenia is higher in developed countries, more research is warranted focused on the interaction between economic measures, and the incidence, prevalence and course of schizophrenia.


incidence prevalence schizophrenia systematic review economic status developing countries 


  1. 1.
    Saha S, Chant D, Welham J, McGrath J (2005) The systematic review of the prevalence of schizophrenia. PLoS Med 2:0413–0433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jablensky A, Sartorius N, Ernberg G, et al. (1992) Schizophrenia: manifestations, incidence and course in different cultures. A World Health Organization ten-country study. Psychol Med Monogr 20(Suppl):1–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bresnahan M, Menezes P, Varma V, Susser E (2003) Geographical variation in incidence, course and outcome of schiozphrenia: a comparison of developing and developed countries. In: Murray RM, Jones PB, Susser E, et al. (eds). The epidemiology of schizophrenia. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,pp 18–33Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    McGrath J, Saha S, Welham J, El Saadi O, MacCauley C, Chant D (2004) A systematic review of the incidence of schizophrenia: the distribution of rates and the influence of sex, urbanicity, migrant status and methodology. BMC Med 2:13CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    World Bank Group (2004) Beyond Economic Growth student book: Available: Accessed 5 November, vol 2004
  6. 6.
    Central Intelligence Agency (2004) CIA World Factbook 2004. Central Intelligence Agency, Office of Public Affairs, Washington (DC), 730 pGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Alem A, Kebede D (2003): Conducting psychiatric research in the developing world: challenges and rewards. Br J Psychiat 182:185–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sukanta Saha
    • 1
  • Joy Welham
    • 1
  • David Chant
    • 1
    • 2
  • John McGrath
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research The Park Centre for Mental HealthWacolAustralia
  2. 2.Dept. of PsychiatryUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

Personalised recommendations