Inverse association between urbanicity and treatment resistance in schizophrenia

Theresa Wimberley, Carsten B Pedersen, James H MacCabe, Henrik Støvring, Aske Astrup, Holger J Sørensen, Henriette T Horsdal, Preben B Mortensen, Christiane Gasse

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BACKGROUND: Living in a larger city is associated with increased risk of schizophrenia; and world-wide, consistent evidence shows that the higher the degree of urbanicity the higher the risk of schizophrenia. However, the association between urbanicity and treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS) as a more severe form of schizophrenia or separate entity of schizophrenia has not been fully explored yet. We aimed to investigate the association between urbanicity and incidence of TRS.

METHODS: A large Danish population-based cohort of all individuals with a first schizophrenia diagnosis after 1996 was followed until 2013 applying survival analysis techniques. TRS was assessed using a treatment-based proxy, defined as the earliest observed instance of either clozapine initiation or hospital admission due to schizophrenia after having received two prior antipsychotic monotherapy trials of adequate duration.

RESULTS: Among the 13,349 schizophrenia patients, 17.3% experienced TRS during follow-up (median follow-up: 7years, inter-quartile range: 3-12years). The 5-year risk of TRS ranged from 10.5% in the capital area to 17.6% in the rural areas. Compared with individuals with schizophrenia residing in the capital area, hazard ratios were 1.44 (1.31-1.59) for provincial areas and 1.60 (1.43-1.79) for rural areas.

CONCLUSION: Higher rates of TRS were found in less urbanized areas. The different direction of urban-rural differences regarding TRS and schizophrenia risk may indicate urban-rural systematic differences in treatment practices, or different urban-rural aetiologic types of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Pages (from-to)150-155
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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