Identifying aspects of neighbourhood deprivation associated with increased incidence of schizophrenia

Schizophr Res. 2014 Jun;156(1):115-21. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2014.03.014. Epub 2014 Apr 14.


Background: Several studies have found an association between area deprivation and incidence of schizophrenia. However, not all studies have concurred and definitions of deprivation have varied between studies. Relative deprivation and inequality seem to be particularly important, but which aspects of deprivation or how this effect might operate is not known.

Methods: The Lambeth Early Onset case register is a database of all cases of first episode psychosis aged 16 to 35years from the London Borough of Lambeth, a highly urban area. We identified 405 people with first onset schizophrenia who presented between 2000 and 2007. We calculated the overall incidence of first onset schizophrenia and tested for an association with area-level deprivation, using a multi-domain index of deprivation (IMD 2004). Specific analyses into associations with individual sub-domains of deprivation were then undertaken.

Results: Incidence rates, directly standardized for age and gender, were calculated for Lambeth at two geographical levels (small and large neighbourhood level). The Poisson regression model predicting incidence rate ratios for schizophrenia using overall deprivation score was statistically significant at both levels after adjusting for ethnicity, ethnic density, population density and population turnover. The incidence rate ratio for electoral ward deprivation was 1.03 (95% CI=1.004-1.04) and for the super output area deprivation was 1.04 (95% CI=1.02-1.06). The individual domains of crime, employment deprivation and educational deprivation were statistically significant predictors of incidence but, after adjusting for the other domains as well as age, gender, ethnicity and population density, only crime and educational deprivation, remained statistically significant. Low income, poor housing and deprived living environment did not predict incidence.

Conclusions: In a highly urban area, an association was found between area-level deprivation and incidence of schizophrenia, after controlling for age, gender, ethnicity and population density; high crime and low levels of education accounted for this. As both of these are potentially modifiable, this suggests a possible means to reduce the incidence of schizophrenia.

Keywords: Deprivation; Epidemiology; Incidence; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Psychosocial Deprivation*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Social Environment
  • Young Adult