Predictors of Treatment-Resistant and Clozapine-Resistant Schizophrenia: A 12-Year Follow-up Study of First-Episode Schizophrenia-Spectrum Disorders

Sherry Kit Wa Chan, Hei Yan Veronica Chan, William G. Honer, Tarun Bastiampillai, Yi Nam Suen, Wai Song Yeung, Ming Lam, Wing King Lee, Roger Man King Ng, Christy Lai Ming Hui, Wing Chung Chang, Edwin Ho Ming Lee, Eric Yu Hai Chen

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47 Citations (Scopus)


Studies on the long-term development and early predictors of treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS) and clozapine-resistant TRS (CR-TRS) in patients with first-episode schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (FES) are limited and have not considered the impact of early intervention services (EIS). This study aimed to explore the development of TRS and CR-TRS among patients with FES over 12 years of follow-up. Of the 1234 patients with FES, 15% developed TRS. A total of 450 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were included in a nested case-control study (157 TRS and 293 non-TRS). Younger age of onset, poorer premorbid social adjustment during adulthood, longer duration of first episode, a greater number of relapses, and a higher antipsychotic dose in the first 24 months were associated with earlier TRS. CR-TRS patients, constituting 25% of TRS patients, had a poorer premorbid social adjustment in late adolescence and longer delay before clozapine initiation compared with non-CR-TRS. CR-TRS had poorer clinical and functional outcomes at 12-year follow-up. However, TRS patients on clozapine had a lower mortality rate compared with non-TRS patients. EIS did not have a significant impact on the development of TRS, but patients in the EIS group had a shorter delay of clozapine initiation. Results suggested that neurodevelopmental factors, early clinical characteristics, and requirement for higher antipsychotic dose may be associated with TRS development, highlighting multiple pathways leading to this form of illness. Specific interventions including relapse prevention and early initiation of clozapine during the early course of illness may reduce the rate of TRS and improve patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-494
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • clinical predictors
  • clozapine-resistant schizophrenia
  • early intervention service
  • long-term outcomes
  • treatment resistant schizophrenia


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