Social decline in the psychosis prodrome: Predictor potential and heterogeneity of outcome

Schizophr Res. 2021 Jan;227:44-51. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2020.09.006. Epub 2020 Oct 31.


Background: While an established clinical outcome of high importance, social functioning has been emerging as possibly having a broader significance to the evolution of psychosis and long term disability. In the current study we explored the association between social decline, conversion to psychosis, and functional outcome in individuals at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis.

Methods: 585 subjects collected in the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study (NAPLS2) were divided into 236 Healthy Controls (HCs), and CHR subjects that developed psychosis (CHR + C, N = 79), or those that did not (Non-Converters, CHR-NC, N = 270). CHR + C subjects were further divided into those that experienced an atypical decline in social functioning prior to baseline (beyond typical impairment levels) when in min-to-late adolescence (CHR + C-SD, N = 39) or those that did not undergoing a decline (CHR + C-NSD, N = 40).

Results: Patterns of poor functional outcomes varied across the CHR subgroups: CHR-NC (Poor Social 36.3%, Role 42.2%) through CHR + C-NSD (Poor Social 50%, Poor Role 67.5%) to CHR + C-SD (Poor Social 76.9%, Poor Role 89.7%) functioning. The two Converter subgroups had comparable positive symptoms at baseline. At 12 months, the CHR + C-SD group stabilized, but social functioning levels remained significantly lower than the other two subgroups.

Conclusions: The current study demonstrates that pre-baseline social decline in mid-to-late adolescence predicts psychosis. In addition, we found that this social decline in converters is strongly associated with especially poor functional outcome and overall poorer prognosis. Role functioning, in contrast, has not shown similar predictor potential, and rather appears to be an illness indicator that worsens over time.

Keywords: Biobehavioral marker; Clinical high risk; Functional outcome; Psychosis; Role functioning; Social functioning.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Prodromal Symptoms*
  • Psychotic Disorders*
  • Social Adjustment