Predicting relapse after a first episode of non-affective psychosis: a three-year follow-up study

J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Aug;46(8):1099-105. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.05.001. Epub 2012 Jun 19.


Background: Preventing relapse during the first years of illness has a critical impact on lifelong outcomes in schizophrenia. A better understanding and improvement in factors which influence relapse should diminish the risk of relapse and consequently improve the outcome of the illness.

Objective: To identify factors associated with relapse after 3 years of a first episode in a sample of non-affective psychosis patients who are representative of clinical practice in an epidemiological catchment.

Method: We analyzed socio-demographic and clinical data from a cohort of patients who were treated in a specialized early intervention service and who were at risk of relapse during a 3-year follow-up. Univariate analyses, logistic regression and survival analyses were performed. The analyzed variables included gender, age at onset, duration of untreated psychosis, clinical severity at baseline, insight at baseline, premorbid functioning, substance use, family history of psychosis and adherence to medication.

Results: Of the 140 patients considered to be at risk for relapse, 91 (65%) individuals relapsed at least once over the three-year period. The relapse rates at 1 year and 2 years were 20.7% and 40.7%, respectively. Adherence to medication was the only significant predictor of relapse after a three-year follow-up [hazard ratio (HR) 4.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.9-7.7; p < 0.001]. Comparison of the mean time of relapse between adherent and non-adherent patients also revealed statistically significant differences (933 and 568 days, respectively). 50% of patients will relapse despite being categorized as treatment adherents.

Conclusion: Non-adherence to medication is the biggest predictive factor of relapse after a first episode of psychosis.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychotic Disorders / drug therapy
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Antipsychotic Agents