A new study conducted by Chinese investigators suggests that young adults who are illiterate have a higher incidence of schizophrenia than the average population. The investigation was primarily focused on individuals below the age of 40.
For this age group, illiteracy was tied to a 200 percent increase in schizophrenia risk, a significant statistical correlation by all standards. The work was led by scientists at Peking University, under the supervision of team leader Xiaoying Zheng.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with this mental disorder include a significant, pervasive breakdown in superior thought processes, poor responses to emotional stimuli and, in more extreme cases, audiovisual hallucinations that significantly lower sufferers' quality of life.
Disorganized speech and thinking are also extremely common. Constantly experiencing hallucinations leads to the development of extreme paranoia and delusions, which can also lead many patients to commit suicide, PsychCentral
The data on which the new study was based were collected from the Second China National Sample Survey on Disability, which was conducted in 2006. Some 1,909,205 individuals above the age of 18 were studied, of which 7,628 were diagnosed with schizophrenia.
During face-to-face interviews, the researchers established that 15.3 percent of all people in the test sample were illiterate. Schizophrenia rates in illiterate individuals ranged between 1.64 percent (people aged 18 to 29), and 0.5 percent, in seniors above the age of 60.
By comparison, the incidence of schizophrenia in literate people ranged between 0.22 percent in those between 18 and 29, and 0.39 percent in those between 40 and 49. “Both social selection and social cause processes may have operated in the association,” the research team explains.
Scientists controlled for a variety of influencing factors, including age, marital status, place of residence, gender, income, and so on. Environment and genetic risk factors were also considered.
“The current study found a strong association between illiteracy and schizophrenia among Chinese people less than 40 years old. Future studies on the association between social environment and risk of schizophrenia as well as mechanisms underlying the association are necessary,” the team explains.
Details of the new investigation were published in the latest issue of the esteemed scientific journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.