Sex differences in schizophrenia-spectrum diagnoses: results from a 30-year health record registry

Archives of women's mental health(2023)

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This study investigated sociodemographic and clinical differences between the sexes in individuals affected by schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (SSD) who accessed outpatient mental health services. Within a retrospective cohort of 45,361 outpatients receiving care in Ferrara (Italy) from 1991 to 2021, those with a SSD diagnosis were compared between the sexes for sociodemographic and clinical characteristics before and after the index date (when the ICD-9: 295.*diagnosis was first recorded) to assess early trajectory, age and type of diagnosis, and severity of illness indicated by medication use, hospitalization, and duration of psychiatric care. Predictors of discharge were also investigated. Among 2439 patients, 1191 were women (48.8%). Compared to men, women were significantly older at first visit (43.7 vs. 36.8 years) and at index date (47.8 vs. 40.6) with peak frequency at age 48 (vs. 30). The most frequent last diagnosis recorded before the index date was delusional disorder (27.7%) or personality disorder (24.3%) in men and depression (24%) and delusional disorder (30.1%) in women. After the index date, long-acting antipsychotics and clozapine were more frequently prescribed to men (46.5% vs. 36.3%; 13.2% vs. 9.4%, p < 0.05) and mood stabilizers and antidepressants to women (24.3% vs. 21.1%; 50.1% vs. 35.5%; p < 0.05). Women had fewer involuntary admissions (10.1% vs. 13.6%) and were more likely to be discharged as the time under care increased ( p = 0.009). After adjusting for covariates, sex was not a significant predictor of discharge. Our study confirmed that sex differences exist in clinical and sociodemographic characteristics of outpatients with SSD and that gender considerations might influence the rapidity of diagnosis and medications prescribed. These findings highlight the need to implement a women-tailored approach in specialist care programs for psychoses.
Psychosis,Women,Precision medicine,Schizophrenia spectrum disorders,Early detection
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