Remission in schizophrenia: critical and systematic review

Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2012 Nov-Dec;20(6):281-97. doi: 10.3109/10673229.2012.747804.


In 2005, the Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group published consensus criteria to define remission. These criteria have been widely accepted and utilized and have provided further insights about schizophrenia management and prognosis. We systematically reviewed studies that utilized these criteria, with the aim of assessing the remission rate in follow-up studies and the variables predicting or associated with remission. Remission has a reported rate of 17% to 78% (weighted mean = 35.6%) in first-episode schizophrenia and 16% to 62% (weighted mean = 37%) in multiple-episode patients, with no statistical difference between the two weighted means (p = .79). Patients who were treated with long-acting injectable risperidone showed high maintenance of remission status. Studies comparing second-generation antipsychotics versus haloperidol showed higher remission rates for the former. The variables most frequently associated with remission were better premorbid function, milder symptoms at baseline (especially negative symptoms), early response to treatment, and shorter duration of untreated psychosis. Variability in the length and frequency of follow-ups, as well as differences in dropout rates, could partially explain the differences in reported rates. Rates of symptomatic remission exceeded reported rates for functional recovery. Moreover, the majority of studies used Remission in Schizophrenia Working Group severity criteria only, neglecting duration. To enhance comparison between future research findings, we suggest further specifiers of the working group's criteria, to better define frequency and duration of follow-up, and proxy measures of remission.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Behavioral Symptoms* / etiology
  • Behavioral Symptoms* / psychology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / adverse effects
  • Disease Management
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / drug therapy
  • Hallucinations / etiology
  • Haloperidol* / administration & dosage
  • Haloperidol* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Remission Induction / methods*
  • Risperidone* / administration & dosage
  • Risperidone* / adverse effects
  • Schizophrenia* / complications
  • Schizophrenia* / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia* / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Haloperidol
  • Risperidone