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Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria

Print version ISSN 1516-4446

Abstract

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 1516-4446.  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.

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