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ISSN: 1935-1232 (P)

ISSN: 1941-2010 (E)

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Abstract

Stressful Life Events, Social Class and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Author(s): Bernard J. Gallagher III , Brian J. Jones , Mariana Pardes

We test to see if severe stressful life events precede onset of specific symptoms of schizophrenia. Our analyses extend to possible variations in the effect by socioeconomic status (SES) of origin. The medical records of 431 schizophrenic patients were categorized into negative and positive subtypes by application of SANS, SAPS and PANSS scales. SES was bifurcated into low-SES and high-SES groups. Stressful life events were classified into four domains. The study variables were tested by the use of chi-square analysis. Our results show that there is an elevated rate of positive symptoms among low-SES patients who underwent a stressful life event before symptom onset. Significance is confirmed with an X2 value of 5.418, p=.020. The finding does not hold true for high-SES patients and is not related to type of stressful life event. Thus, we conclude that environmental stressors frequently precede onset of positive symptoms of schizophrenia. This is only true for patients of low SES of origin. We hypothesize that low-SES patients have a heightened reactivity to stressors, a reactivity that is incubated by the human toll of impoverishment.