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Physical illness and lifestyle risk factors in people with their first presentation of psychosis



There is an increased prevalence of physical illness and poor lifestyle in patients with chronic schizophrenia. It is unclear whether these are present at the onset of psychosis or develop over the course of illness. We aimed to establish whether patients experiencing their first episode of psychosis have worse physical health and lifestyle than community controls without psychosis.


Eighty-nine patients with new onset illness were compared to age and sex matched controls for self-reported physical illness and cardiovascular and respiratory risk factors.


Patients reported more physical health complaints, mainly respiratory, compared with age and gender matched controls (odds ratio 2.85, 95% confidence interval 1.2–6.7). Patients were more likely to be cigarette smokers (1.82, 95% CI 1.0–3.3) and eat a fast food diet (1.04, 95% CI 1.0–1.1), but these differences were accounted for by patients’ unemployment status.


Some risk factors for physical health problems are present at the onset of psychosis, but these may be explained by unemployment.

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Our thanks to Dr. Annabel Nickol for her invaluable comments on the manuscript. The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and the NHS Executive.

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Correspondence to Chiara Samele.

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Samele, C., Patel, M., Boydell, J. et al. Physical illness and lifestyle risk factors in people with their first presentation of psychosis. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol 42, 117–124 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-006-0135-2

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Key words

  • psychosis
  • physical health
  • lifestyle
  • first onset