Objective: This article describes the establishment of the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB), which operates to collect, store and distribute linked clinical, cognitive, neuroimaging and genetic data from a large sample of people with schizophrenia and healthy controls. Method: Recruitment sources for the schizophrenia sample include a multi-media national advertising campaign, inpatient and community treatment services and non-government support agencies. Healthy controls have been recruited primarily through multi-media advertisements. All participants undergo an extensive diagnostic and family history assessment, neuropsychological evaluation, and blood sample donation for genetic studies. Selected individuals also complete structural MRI scans. Results: Preliminary analyses of 493 schizophrenia cases and 293 healthy controls are reported. Mean age was 39.54 years (SD = 11.1) for the schizophrenia participants and 37.38 years (SD = 13.12) for healthy controls. Compared to the controls, features of the schizophrenia sample included a higher proportion of males (cases 65.9%; controls 46.8%), fewer living in married or de facto relationships (cases 16.1%; controls 53.6%) and fewer years of education (cases 13.05, SD = 2.84; controls 15.14, SD = 3.13), as well as lower current IQ (cases 102.68, SD = 15.51; controls 118.28, SD = 10.18). These and other sample characteristics are compared to those reported in another large Australian sample (i.e. the Low Prevalence Disorders Study), revealing some differences that reflect the different sampling methods of these two studies. Conclusion: The ASRB is a valuable and accessible schizophrenia research facility for use by approved scientific investigators. As recruitment continues, the approach to sampling for both cases and controls will need to be modified to ensure that the ASRB samples are as broadly representative as possible of all cases of schizophrenia and healthy controls.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry Vol. 44, Issue 11, p. 1029-1035