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Schizophrenia with prominent catatonic features ('catatonic schizophrenia'): I. Demographic and clinical correlates in the chronic phase.

This study set out to determine the frequency of catatonic syndrome in chronic schizophrenia and its association with sociodemographic, clinical, and treatment variables. A cross-sectional assessment of a randomly selected cohort of patients (n=225; mean age=42+/-7 years; mean length of illness=20.4+/-7.5 years) with DSM-IV schizophrenia was employed using standard rating instruments for catatonia, drug-induced extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS), and psychotic, depressive, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Using a rather narrow definition of catatonia [the presence of four or more signs/symptoms with at least one having a score '2' or above on the Bush-Francis Catatonia Rating Scale (BFCRS)], 72 subjects (32%) met the criteria for the catatonia group (mean number of catatonic signs/symptoms=5.9+/-2.0; mean sum score of 8.7+/-3.4 on the BFCRS). The frequency distribution of catatonic signs/symptoms in the catatonic group and in the whole sample was very similar, with mannerisms, grimacing, stereotypes, posturing, and mutism being the most frequent. In the logistic regression analysis, catatonic subjects had a significantly earlier age of onset, more negative symptoms, and were more likely to receive benzodiazepines than their noncatatonic counterparts. In multiple regression analysis, the severity of catatonia as indicated by the sum score of BFCRS was predicted only by earlier age of onset and negative symptoms. Using relatively narrow criteria, this study confirmed that, if methodically assessed, catatonic signs and symptoms are prevalent in patients with chronic schizophrenia. Catatonia can be differentiated from EPS. Catatonic features indicate a generally poor prognosis in the chronic phase of schizophrenia.

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