OBJECTIVE Little is known about the practice of predicting community-based care effectiveness of patients affected by schizophrenic disorders. We assessed predictors of treatment failure in a large sample of young people affected by schizophrenia. METHODS A cohort of 556 patients aged 18-35 years who were originally diagnosed with schizophrenia during 2005-2009 in a Mental Health Service (MHS) of the Italian Lombardy Region was identified. Intensity of mental healthcare received during the first year after index visit (exposure) was measured by patients' regularity in MHS attendance and the length of time covered with antipsychotic drug therapy. Patients were followed from index visit until 2012 for identifying hospital admission for mental disorder (outcome). A proportional hazards model was fitted to estimate the HR and 95% CIs for the exposure-outcome association, after adjusting for several covariates. A set of sensitivity analyses were performed in order to account for sources of systematic uncertainty. RESULTS During follow-up, 144 cohort members experienced the outcome. Compared with patients on low coverage with antipsychotic drugs (≤ 4 months), those on intermediate (5-8 months) and high (≥ 9 months) coverage, had HRs (95% CI) of 0.94 (0.64 to 1.40) and 0.69 (0.48 to 0.98), respectively. There was no evidence that regular attendance at the MHS affected the outcome. CONCLUSIONS Patients in the early phase of schizophrenia and their families should be cautioned about the possible consequences of poor antipsychotic adherence. Physicians and decision makers should increase their contribution towards improving mental healthcare.