Objective: To investigate whether large social networks are associated with better functional outcome in psychotic disorders.
Method: A prospective cohort study of epidemiologically representative patients with psychosis was analysed to examine the relationship between social networks and functional outcome. Standardized validated measures were used for diagnosis, social networks and outcome.
Results: There was strong evidence of cross-sectional associations between the size of the social network and the number of active interactions, and functional outcome. Structural equation modelling found weak evidence of an additional longitudinal association.
Conclusion: There was consistent evidence of a positive correlation between the total size of patients' social networks and the number of active interactions, and functional outcome. The direction of causality cannot be determined by this analysis, although it is suggested that the effect of social networks on functioning is stronger than vice versa. Patients' functioning may improve with interventions that improve social networks.