Background: There is substantial evidence regarding a social cognitive deficit in schizophrenia, and it has been suggested to be a trait-marker of this disorder. However, a domain-by-domain analysis of social cognitive deficits in individuals at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis has not been performed.
Method: Electronic databases were searched for studies regarding social cognitive performance in individuals at CHR. The included social cognitive domains, which were classified based on the Social Cognition Psychometric Evaluation (SCOPE) initiative of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), were as follows: theory of mind (ToM), social perception (SP), attributional bias (AB), and emotion processing (EP).
Results: Twenty studies that included 1229 individuals at CHR and 825 healthy controls met the inclusion criteria. The overall effect size for social cognition was medium (g=-0.477). The largest effect size was identified for AB (g=-0.708). A medium effect size was identified for EP (g=-0.446) and ToM (g=-0.425), and small effects were identified for SP (g=-0.383).
Conclusion: This is the first quantitative domain-by-domain social cognitive meta-analysis regarding CHR individuals. The present study indicated that individuals at CHR exhibited significant impairments in all domains of social cognition compared with healthy controls, with the largest effect size identified for AB. The identification of social cognitive domains that reflect an increased risk for impending psychosis and of predictors of the conversion to psychosis via a longitudinal follow-up study is required.
Keywords: Attribution bias; Clinical high risk for psychosis; Meta-analysis; Prodromal psychosis; Social cognition.
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