Relationship between childhood trauma and level of insight in schizophrenia: A path-analysis in the national FACE-SZ dataset

Schizophr Res. 2019 Jun;208:90-96. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2019.04.006. Epub 2019 Apr 23.


Introduction: This study aimed was to investigate the relationship between different types of childhood trauma and the level of insight (i.e., awareness of having a psychiatric disorder) in subjects suffering from schizophrenia, as well as the putative role of clinical mediators.

Methods: 294 community-dwelling subjects with stable schizophrenia were included into FACE-SZ, a multicentre cross-sectional study. All patients were assessed by specialized multidisciplinary teams. The level of insight was assessed by the Scale to assess Unawareness of Mental Disorder (SUMD), and childhood trauma by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Path analyses from the five CTQ subscales (physical abuse and neglect, emotional abuse and neglect, and sexual abuse) and the SUMD, with current symptomatology (i.e., positive, negative, global psychopathology and depression) as mediator, was performed.

Results: Physical neglect (β = 0.14) and abuse (β = 0.13) were significantly associated with poor insight. Negative symptoms were a clinical mediator of the relationship between physical neglect and poor insight. Moreover, positive (β = 0.21) and negative (β = 0.30) symptoms were associated with poor insight, whereas depression (β = -0.14) was associated with higher levels of insight.

Discussion: For the first time, this study shows a significant relationship between childhood trauma, specifically physical neglect and abuse, and poor insight. The level of insight was linked to different clinical dimensions. Among subjects with schizophrenia, these results provide support for a role of childhood trauma in poorer management outcomes, and the need to provide treatment, including psycho-education that better targets the consequences of childhood trauma.

Keywords: Childhood trauma; Insight; Negative symptoms; Path-analysis; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
  • Adult Survivors of Child Adverse Events*
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences*
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychological Trauma / physiopathology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult