Sex differences

How are differences between the sexes relevant to people with schizophrenia?

Sex differences have been reported in schizophrenia, including differences between sexes in the age of illness onset, in functioning, in symptom profile, and in the course of illness. This summary table assesses differences in the rates of schizophrenia between males and females as differences in incidence (number of new cases in the population at risk over a specified period of time) and prevalence (proportion of individuals who have the disorder in the population at risk at a specified time point or over a specified time period). Any sex differences in rates of schizophrenia could be due to genetic and/or environmental influences.

What is the evidence for sex differences?

Moderate to high quality evidence shows a small increase in the incidence, but not the prevalence of schizophrenia in males. This effect was found only up until around 40 years of age, with no sex differences between 40 and 50 years of age, then there was higher incidence in females after 50 years of age, possibly due to loss of oestrogen. These results remained after adjusting for year of study, sample size, sampling frame (admission or contact), case ascertainment (clinical, systematic or interview), and diagnostic classification system.

Moderate quality evidence finds male sex was also more common in people assessed as being at ultra high-risk for psychosis; having attenuated psychotic symptoms or brief and limited intermittent psychotic symptoms, as well as genetic risk and functional deterioration.

April 2022

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Last updated at: 3:14 pm, 25th April 2022
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
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