Although schizophrenia onset usually occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood, much research shows that its seeds are planted early in life and that eventual onset occurs at the end of a neurodevelopmental process leading to aberrant brain functioning. This idea, along with the fact that current therapies are far from fully effective, suggests that preventive treatments may be needed to achieve an ideal outcome for schizophrenia patients and those predisposed to the disorder. In this article, we review the methodological challenges that must be overcome before effective preventive interventions can be created. Prevention studies will need to define the target population. This requires the identification of risk factors that will be useful in selecting at-risk people for preventive treatment. We review currently identified risk factors for schizophrenia: genes, psychosocial factors, pregnancy and delivery complications, and viruses. We also review 3 different types of prevention programs: universal, indicated, and selective. For schizophrenia, we distinguish prevention programs that target prodromal cases and those that target the disorder's premorbid precursors. Although those targeting prodromal cases provide a useful framework for early treatment of the disorder, studies of premorbid individuals are needed to design a truly preventive treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health