Examining the impact of substance use on hospital length of stay in schizophrenia spectrum disorder: a retrospective analysis

Achim Burrer, Stephan T. Egger, Tobias R. Spiller, Matthias Kirschner, Philipp Homan, Erich Seifritz, Stefan Vetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Among patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, the presence of substance use poses an aggravating comorbidity, exerting a negative impact on the course of the disease, adherence to therapeutic regimens, treatment outcomes, duration of hospital stays, and the frequency of hospitalizations. The primary objective of the present study is to investigate the relationship between comorbid substance use disorders, antipsychotic treatment, and the length of stay in individuals hospitalized for treatment of schizophrenia. Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of electronic health records spanning a 12-month period, specifically focusing on adult patients diagnosed with schizophrenia who were discharged from the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich between January and December 2019. We documented the number and types of diagnosed substance use disorder, the antipsychotic treatment, the length of stay, and the number of previous hospitalizations for each patient. Results: Over a third (n = 328; 37.1%) of patients with schizophrenia had comorbid substance use with cannabis being the most frequent consumed substance. Patients with substance use (either single or multiple) were more frequently hospitalized; those with multiple substance use more frequently than those with a single substance use (F(2, 882) = 69.06; p < 0.001). There were no differences regarding the rate of compulsory admission. Patients with no substance use had a lower HoNOS score at discharge (F(2, 882) = 4.06). Patients with multiple substance use had a shorter length of stay (F(2, 882) = 9.22; p < 0.001), even after adjusting for duration of illness, previous hospitalizations, diagnosis, and antipsychotic treatment. Conclusions: In patients with schizophrenia, comorbid single or multiple substance use has a relevant negative impact on treatment and thus on the course of disease. Substance use in patients with schizophrenia should therefore receive special attention in order to reduce re-hospitalization rates and improve the clinical outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number233
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Hospitalization
  • Length of stay
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance use


Dive into the research topics of 'Examining the impact of substance use on hospital length of stay in schizophrenia spectrum disorder: a retrospective analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this