January 10, 2007

New Study on the Causal Factors in Schizophrenia Prompts Concern

A new study out of Finland that has looked into the factors affecting the incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia are showing that schizophrenia "is not the egalitarian disorder we once thought it was."

SchizophreniaForum reports on a study and editorial that suggest that

"Rather than the previous view - that schizophrenia prevalence varied little among different societies and cultures - it is now appreciated that the disease varies from country to country, and between men and women, so that "the epidemiology of schizophrenia is no longer a flat and featureless horizon," but instead bears "surprisingly rich contours."

Because of this, epidemiological studies have an important place in sorting out the environmental and social factors that increase schizophrenia risk, including urban birth, migrant status, prenatal factors, and others. McGrath calls on the schizophrenia research community to “generate a sense of urgency about unraveling the environmental risk factors contributing to the gradients.”

The possibility that growing urbanization all over the world could contribute to higher disease prevalence in the future should “galvanize” the research community, he says. “It is interesting to speculate about what the response would be if the health outcome was cardiovascular disease rather than mental illness. One would predict that the government funding agencies would invest heavily in projects aimed at understanding the mechanism of action linking the variables of interest.” He continues, “The fact that this has not yet happened for schizophrenia is a cause for concern.”

Read the full story: Pinning Down Schizophrenia Prevalence in a Finnish Population


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