Humanistic burden in schizophrenia: A literature review



A. Millier, U. Schmidt, M.C. Angermeyer, D. Chauhan, V. Murthy, M. Toumi, N. Cadi-Soussi

Journal of Psychiatric Research

Volume 54, Pages 8593, July 2014




Objectives of the study and background

Schizophrenia is a complex disease that affects 1% of the population. This disease has a considerable impact not only on patients' health and well-being but also on their surrounding environment. The costs of the disease's management remain large for individuals and society. While literature on the economic impact of schizophrenia is abundant, few studies have focused on its humanistic burden. This does not only concern patients, but also caregivers, relatives, neighbours and others in a patient's daily life. This burden appears through several dimensions, including treatment side effects and the impact on caregivers and features of the patient's environment. The aim of this review is to consider, compile and describe the humanistic burden of schizophrenia as documented in the literature.

Materials and methods

We conducted a literature review assessing the worldwide disease burden of schizophrenia, taking into account all humanistic burden topics. The search considered several databases, including Embase, Medline, Cochrane Library, The German Institute of Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) and the ISPOR conference websites.


The search identified 200 literature reviews, covering several dimensions of humanistic burden and documenting many issues. Main findings included the high death rates that may be explained by long-lasting negative health habits, disease- and treatment-related metabolic disorders, and consequent increased frequencies of cardiovascular diseases. Co-existing depression was found to have adverse consequence on the course of schizophrenia progression, morbidity and mortality. Cognitive impairment also adds to the burden of schizophrenia. Social impairment is worsened by underestimated stigmatisation and lack of corresponding awareness within the professional and social spheres. Finally, caregiver burden was found to be considerable.


Humanistic burden among patients with schizophrenia is substantial potentially impacted by co-morbid depressive symptoms, caregiver burden and cognitive impairment. Effects of treatment on humanistic burden in addition to economic burden need to be explored in future trials.





Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee