Objective: In psychotic disorders, impairments in cognition have been associated with both clinical and functional outcome, while deficits in social cognition have been associated with functional outcome. As an extension to a recent report on neurocognition and short-term clinical outcome in first-episode psychosis (FEP), the current study explored whether social cognitive deficits could also identify poor short-term clinical outcome among FEP patients.
Methods: We defined the social-cognition domain based on the scores from the Hinting Task and the Four Factor Tests of Social Intelligence. Data were collected in 45 FEP patients and 26 healthy controls. The patients were divided into good- and poor-outcome groups based on clinical data at six months following initiation of treatment. Social cognition was compared among 27 poor-outcome, 18 good-outcome, and 26 healthy-control participants.
Results: Outcome groups significantly differed in the social cognition domain (z-scores: poor outcome=-2.0 [SD=1.4]; good outcome=-1.0 [SD=1.0]; p=0.005), with both groups scoring significantly lower than the control group (p<0.003). Moreover, outcome groups differed significantly only on the Cartoon Predictions subtest (z-scores: poor outcome=-2.7 [SD=2.7]; good outcome=-0.7 [SD=1.8]; p=0.001) among the five subtests used.
Conclusions: Overall, social cognition appears to be compromised in all FEP patients compared to healthy controls. More interestingly, significant differences in social cognitive impairments exist between good and poor short-term clinical outcome groups, with the largest effect found in the Cartoon Predictions subtest.