Pre-existing Disorders Linked With Violence in Schizophrenia
> 7/9/2007 9:58:54 AM

A new study has linked violence in patients suffering with schizophrenia with pre-existing disorders, such as childhood conduct problems. The study, which adapted data from the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials for Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE), discovered that many sufferers showed signs of aggression, long before being diagnosed with the mental disorder. CATIE was funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The study, published online in the journal of Law and Human Behavior, used the results from 1,445 CATIE participants. The researchers studied the correlation between childhood antisocial behavior and violence among those with schizophrenia. The research found that 19 percent of the participants had some type of violent past. Those who reported a history of childhood behavior problems, had double the amount of violent episodes during their adult life (28%) than those without any former conduct problems who reported a 14 percent incidence of violence. Additionally, the research showed that in both groups, those who reported having an abundance of stress, such as being recently arrested, unemployed or living in a halfway house, were more likely to  show signs of aggression and violence.

Medical News Today, quoted NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. as saying:

"Most people with schizophrenia are not violent. But this study indicates that the likelihood of violence is higher among people with schizophrenia who also have a history of other disorders, namely childhood conduct problems."

Further findings of the study suggest that substance abuse was a key contributor to violence in both groups. However, the group which reported childhood disorders was associated with violence even when the levels of alcohol and substance use were considerably below the threshold for abuse. The researchers hypothesize that violent schizophrenic patients are that way for one of two reasons: the first being a pre-existing condition like childhood conduct disorders, and the other being psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia, which have been linked to violence.

The aim of the study was to foster a better understanding and subsequently better treatment for the disorder. Specifically, the study served to highlight the correlation between patients with the disorder and violence, in an attempt to prevent any further violence by sufferers. By understanding what is at the root of violent behaviors for clients suffering from schizophrenia, mental health practitioners can address the true cause more safely, and ultimately provide better treatment.

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