Remission criteria in schizophrenia
background Recent research shows that there is a considerable variation in the incidence and course of schizophrenia. The illness therefore can best be defined in terms of changeability and plasticity.
aim An internationally accepted standard definition of symptomatic remission.
method Two international panels of experts have wrestled with the problem of whether or how symptomatic remission in persons diagnosed with schizophrenia can be defined. A draft definition was published recently.
results The proposed definition is conceptually viable and can be incorporated easily into both clinical practice and clinical research. Acceptance of the remission concept can raise expectations about treatment outcome to a higher level than is possible when a patient is merely defined as being 'stable', can improve the quality of treatment documentation and facilitate the dialogue concerning treatment expectations. The availability of validated outcome measures based on remission should enhance the reporting and the comparability of clinical research and should facilitate the design and interpretation of new research into the relation between symptomatic remission and functional outcomes.
conclusion The introduction of standard remission criteria can create many opportunities for clinical practice, clinical research and cumulative records of results; at the same time it can facilitate a dialogue with patients and help to clarify the diagnosis of schizophrenia.