Study challenges idea that schizophrenia is distinct in developing and developed regions

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Research by the World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that the course and symptomatic expression of schizophrenia is relatively more benign in developing societies. However, a new study from Current Anthropology challenges this assumption, comparing biological and cultural indicators of schizophrenia in urban, Western societies with study data from the island of Palau, which has one of the highest rates of schizophrenia diagnosis in the world today.

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"A 1% average worldwide population prevalence of schizophrenia is routinely interpreted in the medical literature as implying a uniform distribution," write Roger J. Sullivan (California State University, Sacramento), John S. Allen (University of Southern California), and Karen L. Nero (University of Canterbury, New Zealand). "In this sense, the 1% figure is a myth that conceals considerable variability in actual prevalence between settings."

The researchers point to the islands in Micronesia as an example of this variation. Prevalence of schizophrenia ranges from a low of 0.4% in the Marshall Islands to 1.7% in the western Republic of Palau

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