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Definitions of the Term ‘Recovered’ in Schizophrenia and Other Disorders

Færden A.a · Nesvåg R.b · Marder S.R.c
aDepartment of Psychiatric Research, Ullevål University Hospital, and bDepartment of Psychiatric Research, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway; cSemel Institute for Neuroscience at UCLA, Los Angeles, Calif., USA Psychopathology 2008;41:271–278 (DOI:10.1159/000141921)


Background: The use of the term ‘recovered’ in outcome studies of schizophrenia has for a long time been problematic because of the many different definitions in use. In the present study different definitions of recovered in schizophrenia are reviewed and compared with similar definitions in other fields of medicine. Sampling and Methods: A literature searchwas done for criteria-based definitions of recovered as used in follow-up studies of patients with schizophrenia during the last 50 years and the current use of the term in other fields of medicine. Results: In medicine, only the field of psychiatry defines the term recovered to be synonymous with no or minimal signs of illness. Other fields only apply the term when studying the outcome of a specific function. In psychiatry, only the field of schizophrenia includes both symptoms and functioning in the definition. All but 1 of the 18 definitions found in use in the field of schizophrenia required minimal or no symptoms, while all differed in defining functional recovery. Recovered was seldom defined as following from a state of remission, and studies varied in requiring a stable phase. Conclusion: When using the term in the field of schizophrenia, a distinction should be made between symptomatic and functional recovery in order to place it in line with other fields of medicine. To avoid confusing the process of recovery from the state of being recovered, the term recovered should be reserved for use in outcome studies, following from a time in remission. We suggest 2 years.


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