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To try and better understand the causes and treat people who suffer from the functional disability associated with schizophrenia, researchers at the Center for Neuropsychiatric Outcome and Rehabilitation Research in Glen Oaks have released some preliminary findings from an 18-month-long study.
"Preliminary results in the first 145 patients (85 man and 56 women) revealed that those cognitive operations that interfered with recovery were strikingly different in men and women suffering with schizophrenia," said Program Director Judith Jaeger.
One of the reasons for the study, Jaeger said, was that neuro-psychiatric diseases account for seven of the top 10 leading causes of disability in market economies worldwide.
The seven diseases are major depression, alcohol use, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and drug use.
"Economists estimate that the indirect cost relating to unemployment, housing and social welfare needs amount to three to four times the cost of direct care for the most severe and disabling mental illness," she said. "Functional disability is a leading contributor to homelessness, unemployment and the need for repeated long-term hospitalization."
According to Jaeger, the study showed that schizophrenic women have trouble with working memory - what she termed the "mental scratchpad" - and with tasks such as naming a group of words all beginning with the same letter.
The study discovered that men with the same impairments did not suffer a higher level of disability.
"The degree to which women have these problems is directly related to their level of functional disability," she said. "This is not the case with men."
Jaeger said the men in the study showed that their ability to make decisions was directly related to their level of functional disability. With women there was no correlation, she said.
"The results of this study confirm our belief that the original mission of CENORR is an important one," Jaeger said. "Even if the symptoms are treated and seem to disappear, functional disability may last a lifetime. Had we not followed these patients longitudinally, we would have never discovered these results."
CENORR is a division of Glen Oaks' Hillside Hospital's Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, which is a part of North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Systems.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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