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Outcome of schizoaffective disorder at two long-term follow-ups: comparisons with outcome of schizophrenia and affective disorders
Am J Psychiatry 1991;148:1359-1365.
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OBJECTIVE: This research assessed whether the outcome of schizoaffective disorder is more similar to that of schizophrenia or that of affective disorders. METHOD: The authors conducted a prospective follow-up study of 101 schizoaffective, schizophrenic, bipolar manic, and depressed patients assessed at three times: during hospitalization and 2 and 4-5 years later. The follow-up test battery involved detailed assessment of social functioning, work performance, symptoms, posthospital treatment, and rehospitalization. RESULTS: Outcome for schizoaffective patients 4-5 years after hospitalization differed significantly from that for patients with unipolar depression. However, the differences between schizoaffective and bipolar manic patients were more equivocal. Unlike the patients with bipolar disorder, only a limited number of patients with schizoaffective disorder showed complete recovery in all areas throughout the year preceding the 2-year follow-up and the year preceding the 4- to 5-year follow-up. The differences in outcome between schizoaffective and schizophrenic patients were also mixed. These two groups showed some similarities in outcome, but there were fewer schizoaffective than schizophrenic patients with uniformly poor outcome in all areas. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, schizoaffective patients showed some similarities to both schizophrenic and bipolar manic patients. Schizoaffective patients had somewhat better overall posthospital functioning than patients with schizophrenia, somewhat poorer functioning than bipolar manic patients, and significantly poorer functioning than patients with unipolar depression. The data suggest that when mood-incongruent, schizophrenic-like psychotic symptoms are present in the acute phase, they predict considerable difficulty in outcome, even when affective syndromes are also present, as in schizoaffective disorder. It is likely that schizoaffective disorder is not just a simple variety of affective disorder.

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