Risk Factors for Violent-Crime and Premature Death Can Also Affect Siblings of Those With Schizophrenia

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Drug-use disorders, criminality, and self-hard have been associated with an increased risk for violent crime and premature death in patients with schizophrenia, but a new study suggests these factors may also be relevant for their unaffected siblings.

“Therefore, a combination of population-based and targeted strategies might be necessary to reduce the substantial rates of adverse outcomes in patients with schizophrenia and related disorders,” stated Seena Fazel and colleagues from the University of Oxford in The Lancet Psychiatry.

The study spanned 38 years and included 24,297 Swedish people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other related disorders, 26,357 of their unaffected siblings, and 485,940 controls from the general population who were matched to the patients by age and gender.

The study found that within 5 years of the first diagnosis, 10.7% of men with schizophrenia related disorders were convicted of a violent offence, 2.3% died from suicide, and 3.3% died prematurely (defined as before the age of 56 in the study). The corresponding data for women were 2.7%, 1.5%, and 2.0%.

Compared to the general population, men with schizophrenia were 6.6 times more likely to commit violent crimes, 18.3 times more likely to commit suicide, and 8.1 times more likely to die prematurely, while women were 14.9, 31.1, and 8.1 times more likely to have each adverse outcome, respectively.

The researchers saw that drug-use disorders, a history of violent crime, and self-harm typically increased the risk for adverse outcomes for patients and their unaffected siblings, however the hazard rations were generally higher in the siblings.

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