BACKGROUND: Studies investigating parenthood and how it affects long-term outcomes are lacking among individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. This study aimed to examine the life of participants 20 years after their first diagnosis with a special focus on parenthood, clinical illness course, and family-related outcomes.

METHODS: Among 578 individuals diagnosed with first-episode schizophrenia spectrum disorder between 1998 and 2000, a sample of 174 participants was reassessed at the 20-year follow-up. We compared symptom severity, remission, clinical recovery, and global functioning between 75 parents and 99 non-parents. Also, family functioning scored on the family assessment device, and the children's mental health was reported. We collected longitudinal data on psychiatric admission, supported housing, and work status via the Danish registers.

RESULTS: Participants with offspring had significantly lower psychotic (mean (s.d.) of 0.89 (1.46) v. 1.37 (1.44), p = 0.031) negative (mean [s.d.] of 1.13 [1.16] v. 1.91 [1.07], p < 0.001) and disorganized symptom scores (mean [s.d.] of 0.46 [0.80] v. 0.85 [0.95], p = 0.005) and more were in remission (59.5% v. 22.4%, p < 0.001) and in clinical recovery (29.7% v. 11.1%, p = 0.002) compared to non-parents. When investigating global functioning over 20 years, individuals becoming parents after their first diagnosis scored higher than individuals becoming parents before their first diagnosis and non-parents. Regarding family-related outcomes, 28.6% reported unhealthy family functioning, and 10% of the children experienced daily life difficulties.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, parents have more favorable long-term outcomes than non-parents. Still, parents experience possible challenges regarding family functioning, and a minority of their children face difficulties in daily life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2024


  • familial-high-risk children
  • first-episode schizophrenia spectrum disorder
  • intergenerational
  • long-term outcomes
  • parent
  • psychosis
  • recovery
  • relapse
  • severe mental illness


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