Objective: The duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) influences treatment outcome in schizophrenia but its relevance in untreated patients, ill for a very long duration, is not known. This study examined outcome and factors related to it after one year of treatment of schizophrenia patients who were ill for many years and not previously treated.
Method: Among 75 never-treated patients with schizophrenia detected in a community survey in Chennai, India, 49 took treatment and were followed up prospectively for one year. Evaluation at intake and outcome was carried out using standardized methods.
Results: A good clinical outcome in 29%, social outcome in 35%, occupational outcome in 51% and global outcome in 31% was observed at the end of one year. Patients with poor global outcome did not significantly differ from those with good outcome on demographic and clinical variables at intake but for the presence of delusions and formal thought disorder. The proportion with good outcome in clinical, work and global measures fell steadily with increasing DUP. This difference was significant for clinical and global outcomes after a DUP of 5 years.
Conclusions: The relationship between DUP and response to treatment held good even in chronic stages of schizophrenia with longer DUP associated with poorer outcome.