Alongside increasing urbanization, China’s rates of schizophrenia have gone up dramatically since 1990, according to a World Psychiatry letter from an international team of researchers.
The researchers examined data from 42 studies from 1990 to 2010 involving 2,284,957 Chinese people, of which 10,506 had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. In rural areas, the prevalence of schizophrenia diagnoses in the population remained stable throughout those years at around 0.36%. However, in urban areas, the prevalence of schizophrenia in the population rose from 0.32% in 1990 to 0.47% in 2000, and 0.68% in 2010.
“By 2010, the number of persons affected with schizophrenia rose to 7.16 million, a 132% increase,” the researchers wrote. “Moreover, the contribution of expected cases from urban areas to the overall burden increased from 27% in 1990 to 62% in 2010, well above the proportion of urban residents in China in 2010 (49.2-49.7%).”
The researchers suggested that the study helps establish “urbanicity,” “industrialization” and “modern urban lifestyles” as risk factors for schizophrenia, though they did not speculate as to which aspects of modern life may be leading to these large increases in the frequency with which people are being diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Chan, Kit Yee, Fei-fei Zhao, Shijiao Meng, Alessandro R. Demaio, Craig Reed, Evropi Theodoratou, Harry Campbell, Wei Wang, and Igor Rudan. “Urbanization and the Prevalence of Schizophrenia in China between 1990 and 2010.” World Psychiatry 14, no. 2 (June 1, 2015): 251–52. doi:10.1002/wps.20222. (Full text)