Background: The current review analyzes the long-term outcome and prognosis of early onset schizophrenia based on previously published studies in 1980.
Methods: A systematic search of articles published in the English-language literature after 1980 identified a total of 21 studies, which included 716 patients who were either suffering from early onset schizophrenia (EOS) or both EOS and other psychotic disorders (MIX). The authors of the current review scored the outcome as either "good," "moderate," or "poor." The mean age of onset in these studies was <18 years.
Results: In general, the outcome in studies with EOS is worse than the outcome in MIX studies. Only 15.4% of the patients in EOS studies versus 19.6% of the patients in MIX studies experienced a "good" outcome. In contrast, 24.5% of the patients in EOS studies versus 33.6% in MIX studies experienced a "moderate" outcome, and 60.1% in EOS studies versus 46.8% in MIX studies experienced a "poor" outcome. The authors identified various significant effects on outcome. In EOS, the findings were significantly affected by sample attrition, indicating that in studies with a high dropout rate, fewer patients experienced a "moderate" outcome, and more patients experienced a "poor" outcome; however, the effect sizes were small. Furthermore, the effects were also small and more favourable for specific functioning measures, as opposed to more global measures, small to moderate in terms of worse outcomes for follow-up periods >10 years, small to moderate for more unfavourable outcomes in males, and small to large for worse outcomes in studies including patients diagnosed before 1970.
Conclusions: In contrast to the adult manifestation, the early manifestation of schizophrenia in childhood and adolescence still carries a particularly poor prognosis. According to these aggregated data analyses, longer follow-up periods, male sex, and patients having been diagnosed before 1970 contribute predominantly to the rather poor course of EOS.