Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria
On-line version ISSN 1809-452X
PATEL, Vikram; COHEN, Alex; THARA, Rangaswamy and GUREJE, Oye. Is the outcome of schizophrenia really better in developing countries?. Rev. Bras. Psiquiatr. [online]. 2006, vol.28, n.2, pp.149-152. ISSN 1809-452X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-44462006000200014.
That schizophrenia has a better prognosis in non-industrialized societies has become an axiom in international psychiatry; the evidence most often cited comes from three World Health Organization (WHO) cross-national studies. Although a host of socio-cultural factors have been considered as contributing to variation in the course of schizophrenia in different settings, we have little evidence from low-income countries that clearly demonstrates the beneficial influence of these variables. In this article, we suggest that the finding of better outcomes in developing countries needs re-examination for five reasons: methodological limitations of the World Health Organization studies; the lack of evidence on the specific socio-cultural factors which apparently contribute to the better outcomes; increasing anecdotal evidence describing the abuse of basic human rights of people with schizophrenia in developing countries; new evidence from cohorts in developing countries depicting a much gloomier picture than originally believed; and, rapid social and economic changes are undermining family care systems for people with schizophrenia in developing countries. We argue that the study of the long-term course of this mental disorder in developing countries is a major research question and believe it is time to thoroughly and systematically explore cross-cultural variation in the course and outcome of schizophrenia.
Keywords : Schizophrenia; Cross-cultural comparison; Developing countries; Human rights abuses; Prognosis.