Elderly patients with schizophrenia: prevalence and distribution of age at onset in a psychiatric catchment area in Amsterdam
background Elderly patients with schizophrenia are underrepresented in the literature on schizophrenia, although they constitute a rapidly growing group with specific characteristics. The Amsterdam-based study entitled ‘Schizophrenia in Old Age’ is currently examining the clinical and psychosocial functioning of a cohort of older patients with schizophrenia.
aim To ascertain the one-year prevalence of schizophrenia and the distribution according to age at onset and gender in patients aged 60 years or over within a specific psychiatric catchment area.
method The study is based on the case register of a Mental Health Organisation during 1-7-2007 to 30-6-2008.
results The one-year prevalence of schizophrenia was 0.55 % (95% ci: 0.46-0.64). In more than one in three patients the age of onset was 40 years or over. Women outnumbered men, even in the early-onset schizophrenia subgroup.
conclusion We found the prevalence of schizophrenia among older persons to be comparable to the prevalence among younger populations. The considerable number of patients who developed schizophrenia at an advanced age and the preponderance of women are distinguishing features of older persons with schizophrenia.