Predicting Real-World Functioning in Schizophrenia: The Relative Contributions of Neurocognition, Functional Capacity, and Negative Symptoms

Front Psychiatry. 2021 Mar 19;12:639536. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.639536. eCollection 2021.


Neurocognition and functional capacity are commonly reported predictors of real-world functioning in schizophrenia. However, the additional impact of negative symptoms, specifically its subdomains, i.e., diminished expression (DE) and avolition-apathy (AA), on real-world functioning remains unclear. The current study assessed 58 individuals with schizophrenia. Neurocognition was assessed with the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia, functional capacity with the UCSD Performance-based Skills Assessment (UPSA-B), and negative symptoms with the Negative Symptom Assessment-16. Real-world functioning was assessed with the Multnomah Community Ability Scale (MCAS) with employment status as an additional objective outcome. Hierarchical regressions and sequential logistic regressions were used to examine the associations between the variables of interest. The results show that global negative symptoms contribute substantial additional variance in predicting MCAS and employment status above and beyond the variance accounted for by neurocognition and functional capacity. In addition, both AA and DE predict the MCAS after controlling for cognition and functional capacity. Only AA accounts for additional variance in employment status beyond that by UPSA-B. In summary, negative symptoms contribute substantial additional variance in predicting both real-world functioning and employment outcomes after accounting for neurocognition and functional capacity. Our findings emphasize both DE and AA as important treatment targets in functional recovery for people with schizophrenia.

Keywords: functional capacity; negative symptoms; neurocognition; real-world functioning; schizophrenia.