Outcome measures and needs assessment tools for schizophrenia and related disorders

The routine use of outcome measures such as scales assessing the mental state is thought to improve decision making and patient care in the treatment of people with schizophrenia. This review, however, did not find a single randomised controlled trial which examined this strategy.

Authors' conclusions: 

The routine use of outcomes measures and needs assessment tools is, as yet, unsupported by high quality evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness. Clinicians, patients and policy makers alike may wish to see randomised evidence before this strategy is routinely adopted.

Read the full abstract...

There has been a recent trend to encourage routine outcome measurement and needs assessment as an aid to decision making in clinical practice and patient care. Standardised instruments have been developed which measure clinical symptoms of disorders such as schizophrenia, wider health related quality of life and patients' needs. Such measures might usefully be applied to aid the recognition of psychosocial problems and to monitor the course of patients' progress over time in terms of disease severity and associated deficits in health related quality of life. They might also be used to help clinicians to make decisions about treatment and to assess subsequent therapeutic impact. Such an approach is not, however, without cost and the actual benefit of the adoption of routine outcome and needs assessment in the day-to-day care of those with schizophrenia remains unclear.


To establish the value of the routine administration of outcome measures and needs assessment tools and the feedback they provide in improving the management and outcome of patients with schizophrenia and related disorders.

Search strategy: 

The reviewers undertook electronic searches of the British Nursing Index (1994 to Sept 1999), the Cochrane Library (Issue 2, 2002), the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Trials Register (2002), EMBASE (1980-2002), MEDLINE (1966-2002), and PsycLIT (1887-2002), together with hand searches of key journals. References of all identified studies were searched for further trials, and the reviewers contacted authors of trials.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials comparing the feedback of routine standardised outcome measurement and needs assessment, to routine care for those with schizophrenia.

Data collection and analysis: 

Reviewers evaluated data independently. Studies which randomised clinicians or clinical teams (rather than individual patients) were considered to be the most robust. However only those which took account of potential clustering effects were considered further. Where possible and appropriate, risk ratios (RR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated. For continuous data Weighted Mean Differences (WMD) were calculated. Data were inspected for heterogeneity.

Main results: 

No randomised data were found which addressed the specified objectives. One unpublished and one ongoing trial was identified.