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Relapse in schizophrenia: The role of factors other than non-adherence to treatment.

AIM: Relapse rates are very high in schizophrenia. However, little is known about the predictors of the time to relapse other than treatment non-adherence. We investigated possible risk factors for the time to relapse in patients with first-episode schizophrenia (n = 107) who received assured treatment by way of long-acting injectable antipsychotic over 24 months and who underwent regular clinical, cognitive, and metabolic assessments.

METHODS: Using Cox regression analyses we assessed selected premorbid and baseline potential predictors of time to relapse. Relapse was defined using operationally defined relapse criteria.

RESULTS: In the primary analysis only neurological soft signs total score retained significance, with higher scores predicting shorter time to relapse (HR = 1.05, 95% CI = 1.01-1.10, p = .029). In a more detailed secondary analysis poorer social relationships predicted shorter time to relapse (HR = 0.85, 95% CI = 0.76-0.95, p = .003).

CONCLUSION: Our predominantly negative findings suggest that many of the previously implicated risk factors for the time to relapse are mediated by non-adherence rather than having a direct effect on relapse-proneness. Neurological soft signs, and perhaps quality of life in social relationships appear to play a role and merit further investigation.

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