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.
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