The structure of negative symptoms within schizophrenia: implications for assessment

Schizophr Bull. 2006 Apr;32(2):238-45. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbj013. Epub 2005 Oct 27.


This review examines the structural validity of negative symptoms focusing on 2 questions: (1) Do negative symptoms represent a domain separate from other symptoms in schizophrenia? and (2) Within negative symptoms, is there a structure that suggests multidimensionality? Results from exploratory and confirmatory factor analytic studies are examined to address these questions. Across studies and symptom instruments, negative symptoms appear to consistently emerge as a factor separate from other dimensions of the illness in schizophrenia. Whether 2-, 3-, or 5-factor models are identified, negative symptoms consistently load on a factor separate from positive symptoms, affective symptoms of depression or anxiety, and symptoms of disorganization. Focusing on negative symptoms themselves, factor analytic findings suggest that this construct is multidimensional with at least 2 factors (involving diminished expression and anhedonia-asociality). Although these factors were replicable, serious limitations were noted in this literature. Thus, 2- (or even 3- or 5-) factor models of negative symptoms should not be considered definitive, but rather all converge to support the general conclusion of the multidimensionality of negative symptoms. The later findings indicate the importance of employing assessments that provide adequate coverage of the broad domain of negative symptoms. Importantly, caution is noted in the interpretability of findings based on existing instruments, and implications for future assessment are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*