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Negative symptoms in schizophrenia: a study in a large clinical sample of patients using a novel automated method

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Rashmi Patel ; Nishamali Lakshani Jayatilleke ; Matthew Broadbent ; Chin-Kuo Chang ; Nadia Foskett ; Genevieve Gorrell ; Richard Derek Hayes ; Richard George Jackson ; Caroline Johnston ; Hitesh Shetty ; Angus Roberts ; Philip McGuire ; Robert James Stewart

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere007619
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number9
StatePublished - 8 Sep 2015


King's Authors



Objectives: To identify negative symptoms in the clinical records of a large sample of patients with schizophrenia using natural language processing and assess their relationship with clinical outcomes.

Design: Observational study using an anonymised electronic health record case register.

Setting: South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM), a large provider of inpatient and community mental healthcare in the UK.

Participants: 7678 patients with schizophrenia receiving care during 2011.

Main outcome measures: Hospital admission, readmission and duration of admission.

Results: 10 different negative symptoms were ascertained with precision statistics above 0.80. 41% of patients had 2 or more negative symptoms. Negative symptoms were associated with younger age, male gender and single marital status, and with increased likelihood of hospital admission (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.39), longer duration of admission (β-coefficient 20.5 days, 7.6–33.5), and increased likelihood of readmission following discharge (OR 1.58, 1.28 to 1.95).

Conclusions: Negative symptoms were common and associated with adverse clinical outcomes, consistent with evidence that these symptoms account for much of the disability associated with schizophrenia. Natural language processing provides a means of conducting research in large representative samples of patients, using data recorded during routine clinical practice.

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