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OBJECTIVE: To validate the effect of gender on age at onset of schizophrenia in a developing country

METHODS: Medical records of 252 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia according to DSM-IV criteria at a tertiary care hospital in Karachi, Pakistan between 2002 and 2008 were reviewed using a structured questionnaire. Age at onset was defined as age at onset of psychotic symptoms, age at first contact with a health care provider and age at first hospitalization. Socio-demographic variables were reported using descriptive statistics and all measures of age at onset were compared across gender using t-test.

RESULTS: There were 119 women and 133 men with mean age of 37.6 +/- 12.8 years. All three measures of age at onset of illness showed no difference between women and men. The mean age when first psychotic symptoms appeared in men was 24.86 +/- 8.83 years (n = 128) while that in women was 26.57 +/- 9.96 years (n = 111), p = 0.160. The mean age at index hospitalization for treatment of psychosis in men was 29.50 +/- 10.64 years (n = 123) and in women was 31.61 +/- 12.07 years (n = 103), p = 0.164. The mean age at first contact with any caregiver in men was 29.73 +/- 37.58 years (n = 119) and in women was 29.38 +/- 11.99 years (n = 108), p = 0.926.

CONCLUSION: There is no significant difference in age at onset of schizophrenia across gender in our population. This validates a difference in epidemiology of schizophrenia in the South Asian population.


Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association