Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Clinical Phenotype and Genetic Epidemiology of Schizophrenia in a Finnish Isolate

Ritva Arajärvi

Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and National Public Health Institute, Department of Mental Health and Alcohol Research.

This study is part of the joint project "The Genetic Epidemiology and Molecular Genetics of schizophrenia in Finland" between the Departments of Mental Health and Alcohol Research, and Molecular Medicine at the National Public Health Institute.

In the study, we utilized three nationwide health care registers: 1) the Hospital Discharge Register, 2) the Free Medication Register, and 3) the Disability Pension Register, plus the National Population Register, in order to identify all patients with schizophrenia born from 1940 to 1976 (N=33,731) in Finland, and their first degree-relatives. 658 patients with at least one parent born in a homogeneous isolate in northeastern Finland were identified, as well as 4904 familial schizophrenia patients with at least two affected siblings from the whole country. The comparison group was derived from the Health 2000 Study.

We collected case records and reassessed the register diagnosis. Were contacted the isolate patients and a random sample of patients from the whole country to make diagnostic clinical interviews and to assess the negative and positive symptoms and signs of schizophrenia. In addition to these patients, we interviewed siblings who were initially healthy according to the Hospital Discharge Register.

Of those with a register diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective or schizophreniform disorder, 69% received a record-based consensus diagnosis and 63% an interview-based diagnosis of schizophrenia. Patients with schizophrenia having first-degree relatives with psychotic disorder had more severe affective flattening and alogia than those who were the only affected individuals in their family.

The novel findings were: 1) The prevalence of schizophrenia in the isolate was relatively high based on register (1.5%), case record (0.9-1.3%), and interview (0.7-1.2%) data. 2) Isolate patients, regardless of their familial loading for schizophrenia, had less delusions and hallucinations than the whole country familial patients, which may be related to the genetic homogeneity in the isolate. This phenotype encourages the use of endophenotypes in genetic analyses instead of diagnoses alone. 3) The absence of register diagnosis does not confirm that siblings are healthy, because 7.7% of siblings had psychotic symptoms already before the register diagnoses were identified in 1991. For genetic research, the register diagnosis should therefore be reassessed using either a structured interview or a best- estimate case note consensus diagnosis. Structured clinical interview methods need be considered also in clinical practice.

The title page of the publication

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© University of Helsinki 2006

Last updated 26.04.2006

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