Concordance and factor structure of subthreshold positive symptoms in youth at clinical high risk for psychosis

Schizophr Res. 2021 Jan:227:72-77. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2020.08.014. Epub 2020 Sep 15.


Prevailing models of psychosis risk incorporate positive subthreshold symptoms as defining features of risk or transition to psychotic disorders. Despite this, relatively few studies have focused on characterizing longitudinal symptom features, such as prevalence, concordance and structure, which may aid in refining methods and enhancing classification and prediction efforts. The present study aimed to fill these gaps using longitudinal 24-month follow-up data from the well-characterized NAPLS-2 multi-site investigation of youth at clinical high risk (CHR) who had (n = 86) and had not (n = 268) transitioned to a threshold psychotic disorder since baseline. At baseline, among sub-delusional ideas, unusual thought content and suspicious/persecutory thinking were very common in CHR youth, and were highly concordant. Perceptual abnormalities (P4) were also common across youth regardless of symptom course and eventual transition to psychosis. Grandiose ideas were rare. Exploratory factor analysis extracted two constituent factors at multiple follow-up intervals, but there was marked instability in the structure over 24 months, and clear indicators for a single positive symptom factor. Together these findings support suggestions to combine sub-delusional symptoms into a single symptom category for classification purposes, in efforts to reduce clinical heterogeneity and ease measurement burden.

Keywords: Attenuated psychosis symptoms; Clinically high-risk; Psychosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Delusions
  • Humans
  • Prodromal Symptoms*
  • Psychotic Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders* / epidemiology