Cognitive capacity similarly predicts insight into symptoms in first- and multiple-episode psychosis

Schizophr Res. 2019 Apr;206:236-243. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2018.11.013. Epub 2018 Dec 1.


Background: Lack of insight is a frequent characteristic of psychotic disorders, both in patients who recently experienced a first episode of psychosis (FEP) and those who experience recurrent multiple episodes (MEP). Insight is a multifaceted construct: its clinical form notably includes the unawareness of being ill, of symptoms, and of the need for treatment. Cognitive capacity is among the key determinants of insight into symptoms, but less is known about whether stage of illness (FEP vs. MEP) moderates this association.

Methods: Our aim is to evaluate the association between cognitive capacity and symptom unawareness using structural equation modeling and moderated multiple regression. A total of 193 FEP and MEP patients were assessed using the CogState battery and the Scale to Assess Unawareness of Mental Disorder.

Results: Analyses suggest that cognitive capacity accounts for a relatively small proportion of the total variation in symptom unawareness (6.4%). There was no evidence to suggest a moderating effect of stage of illness on this association.

Conclusions: The effect of general cognitive capacity on symptom unawareness is relatively small, and this basic relation was unrelated to stage of illness. It is possible that stage of illness could moderate this association only for certain facets of insight not assessed in this study (e.g., unawareness of the need for treatment).

Keywords: Awareness; Chronic; Cognition; Enduring; First-episode; Multi-episode; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology*
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotic Disorders / complications
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult