Background: Little is known about the long-term outcomes for patients with schizophrenia who fail to achieve symptomatic remission. This post-hoc analysis of a 3-year study compared the costs of mental health services and functional outcomes between individuals with schizophrenia who met or did not meet cross-sectional symptom remission at study enrollment.
Methods: This post-hoc analysis used data from a large, 3-year prospective, non-interventional observational study of individuals treated for schizophrenia in the United States conducted between July 1997 and September 2003. At study enrollment, individuals were classified as non-remitted or remitted using the Schizophrenia Working Group Definition of symptom remission (8 core symptoms rated as mild or less). Mental health service use was measured using medical records. Costs were based on the sites' medical information systems. Functional outcomes were measured with multiple patient-reported measures and the clinician-rated Quality of Life Scale (QLS). Symptoms were measured using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). Outcomes for non-remitted and remitted patients were compared over time using mixed effects models for repeated measures or generalized estimating equations after adjusting for multiple baseline characteristics.
Results: At enrollment, most of the 2,284 study participants (76.1%) did not meet remission criteria. Non-remitted patients had significantly higher PANSS total scores at baseline, a lower likelihood of being Caucasian, a higher likelihood of hospitalization in the previous year, and a greater likelihood of a substance use diagnosis (all p < 0.05). Total mental health costs were significantly higher for non-remitted patients over the 3-year study (p = 0.008). Non-remitted patients were significantly more likely to be victims of crime, exhibit violent behavior, require emergency services, and lack paid employment during the 3-year study (all p < 0.05). Non-remitted patients also had significantly lower scores on the QLS, SF-12 Mental Component Summary Score, and Global Assessment of Functioning during the 3-year study.
Conclusions: In this post-hoc analysis of a 3-year prospective observational study, the failure to achieve symptomatic remission at enrollment was associated with higher subsequent healthcare costs and worse functional outcomes. Further examination of outcomes for schizophrenia patients who fail to achieve remission at initial assessment by their subsequent clinical status is warranted.