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May 1993

Time Course and Biologic Correlates of Treatment Response in First-Episode Schizophrenia

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, NY.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1993;50(5):369-376. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1993.01820170047006

Objective:  To examine the course and potential predictors of treatment response in the early phase of schizophrenia.

Design:  Prospective study of an inception cohort.

Setting:  Psychiatric division of an academic medical center with a suburban metropolitan catchment area.

Patients and Intervention:  Seventy first-episode patients who had undergone four biologic assessment procedures (brain magnetic resonance imaging, behavioral response to methylphenidate hydrochloride, growth hormone levels, eye tracking) were treated with a standardized antipsychotic drug protocol until recovery. Response was measured in terms of psychopathology and degree of remission.

Results:  Using survival analysis, the proportion of pa- tients remitting by 1 year was estimated at 83%. Mean and median times to remission were 35.7 weeks and 11 weeks, respectively. No baseline demographic or psychopathologic measure significantly predicted time to or level of remission. However, males tended to be nonresponders to treatment and have diagnoses of schizophrenia rather than schizoaffective disorder. Brain pathomorphology and abnormal basal growth hormone significantly predicted time to remission.

Conclusions:  These results indicate that the antipsychotic treatment response of first-episode schizophrenics is better than chronic multiepisode patients and suggest that specific pathobiologic markers reflect pathophysiologic processes that mediate antipsychotic treatment response.