Evidence of Recovery : The 'Ups' and 'Downs' of Longitudinal Outcome Studies

This is the fourth in a series of discussion papers designed to help generate debate on how best to promote and support recovery from long-term mental health problems in Scotland. This discussion paper provides an overview of some of the findings of longitudinal mental health outcome studies that have been conducted in the course of the few last decades in different countries and with different patient groups.

The paper first discusses the findings of studies that have focused on the outcome of schizophrenia. It discusses changing trends in outcome rates and some criticisms of the research in this field. A comparison of more recent outcome findings for different mental health conditions leads to the conclusion that recovery rates as reported in psychiatric research are slightly less positive than predicted by the Vermont Longitudinal Study in 1987. However, a closer look at outcome patterns and measurements used reveals a much more complex picture.