Apathy, poor verbal memory and male gender predict lower psychosocial functioning one year after the first treatment of psychosis

Psychiatry Res. 2013 Nov 30;210(1):55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2013.02.007. Epub 2013 Mar 13.


Background: Apathy is a negative symptom associated with poor psychosocial functioning in schizophrenia but has not been sufficiently studied as predictor of poor functioning in first episode psychosis (FEP).

Objective: The main aim of the current study was to evaluate if apathy predicts poor functioning after 1 year in FEP patients in the context of other clinical variables with influence on outcome.

Method: Sixty-four FEP patients completed an extensive clinical and neuro-psychological test battery at baseline and 1-year follow-up. Symptoms were assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome scale (PANSS), apathy with the shortened Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES-C-12) and psychosocial functioning with the functioning score from the split version of the Global Assessment of Functioning scale (GAF-F).

Results: High levels of apathy, poor verbal memory and being male were the baseline variables that best predicted poor functioning at 1-year follow-up, explaining 34% of the variance in GAF-F. When PANSS negative factor was included in the analysis, the significance of AES-C-12 diminished.

Conclusion: These findings points to a robust role for apathy among the negative symptoms in the development of persisting psychosocial dysfunction in FEP and supports the current effort in targeting motivation to improve functioning.

Keywords: Apathy; Functional outcome; Male gender; Negative symptoms; Predictors; Psychosis; Verbal memory.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Apathy*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*
  • Young Adult