Background: Relapse and hospital admission are common among, and carry a heavy burden in, patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The aim of this study was to assess the risk of relapse and hospitalizations in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder at the St Amanuel Mental Specialized Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Patients and methods: A hospital-based comparative cross-sectional study was conducted in June 2016. Systematic random sampling technique was used to recruit 521 (260 schizophrenia cases and 261 bipolar disorder cases) study participants. Face-to-face interviews were conducted by trained psychiatry professionals. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) criteria and Structured Clinical Interview of DSM-IV (SCID) were used.
Results: The risk of relapse and hospitalizations was slightly higher in patients with bipolar disorder than in patients with schizophrenia. A majority of schizophrenic (213 [81.92%]) and bipolar (215 [82.37%]) patients had a history of hospital admission, and 228 (87.69%) schizophrenic and 230 (88.12%) bipolar patients had a history of relapse. Patients who had a history of hospitalizations also had co-occurring substance use disorders compared to those who had no history of hospitalizations for schizophrenia (81.5% vs 37.9%) and bipolar disorder (82.56% vs 38.2%), respectively. Similarly, those patients who had a history of relapse had high comorbid substance use disorders than those who had no history of relapse for both schizophrenia (87.88% vs 47.37%) and bipolar disorder (88.37% vs 47.19%), respectively.
Conclusion: It is vital that, in the local context, mental health professionals strengthen their therapeutic relationships with patients and their caregivers. This might enable patients and their caregivers to express their needs and concerns to them, as well as help to plan proper interventions for patients. Attention needs to be given to screening for comorbid substance use disorders in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, especially in those who have had a history of relapse and hospitalizations.
Keywords: bipolar disorder; hospitalization; relapse; schizophrenia.