Background: The long-term work performance of persons with schizophrenia in the community is unclear. This study examined the status of long-term work functioning and the predictors of poor work status among patients with schizophrenia in a Chinese rural area.
Methods: A 10-year follow-up investigation (1994-2004) of a cohort (n = 510) of persons with schizophrenia was conducted in Xinjin County, Chengdu, China.
Results: Compared with baseline data, work functioning of patients with schizophrenia deteriorated after 10 years. The rates of not working increased significantly from 12.0% in 1994 to 23.0% in 2004. Bivariate analyses showed that the poor work functioning in 2004 was significantly associated with male gender, older age, older age of first onset, higher level of education, longer duration of illness, lower family economic status, lack of caregivers, poor work status in 1994, living in shabby or unstable house, marked symptoms, and higher score on the Social Disability Screening Schedule (SDSS). In multiple logistic regression analyses, higher score of SDSS and poor work status in 1994 were identified as unique predictors of poor work status in 2004.
Conclusion: The status of work functioning of persons with schizophrenia decreased over the course of the illness. The risk factors for poor work functioning and specific socio-cultural environment should be considered in planning community mental health services and rehabilitation for these patients.