Considering schizophrenia from a prevention perspective

Am J Prev Med. 2004 Feb;26(2):178-85. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2003.10.003.


Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that causes major disability and psychosocial impairment. Recent advances in the neurosciences are prompting considerations of schizophrenia from a preventive perspective. An overview of the literature is provided on two important aspects of the development of a prevention orientation in schizophrenia research: elucidation of potential causal risk factors for schizophrenia and research on risk markers. Risk factors for schizophrenia include, but are not limited to, family history, older paternal age, velo-cardio-facial syndrome, maternal infections during pregnancy, pregnancy and delivery complications, and social adjustment difficulties in childhood and adolescence. Potential risk markers include structural brain pathology, minor physical anomalies and dermatoglyphic abnormalities, neurocognitive deficits, eye-tracking dysfunction, certain electrophysiologic findings, and olfactory identification deficits. Several early efforts at indicated preventive interventions targeting individuals at particularly high risk for developing the disorder are discussed. The preventive medicine and public health disciplines may have a role in future research and interventions that apply a preventive perspective to schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Like any other chronic medical condition, schizophrenia can be considered from a preventive perspective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Early Diagnosis
  • Family Health
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Primary Prevention
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia* / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia* / genetics
  • Schizophrenia* / pathology
  • Schizophrenia* / prevention & control*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*


  • Genetic Markers