Large-scale evaluation of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) symptom architecture in schizophrenia

Asian J Psychiatr. 2021 Aug;62:102732. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2021.102732. Epub 2021 Jun 3.


Although the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) is widely utilized in schizophrenia research, variability in specific item loading exist, hindering reproducibility and generalizability of findings across schizophrenia samples. We aim to establish a common PANSS factor structure from a large multi-ethnic sample and validate it against a meta-analysis of existing PANSS models. Schizophrenia participants (N = 3511) included in the current study were part of the Singapore Translational and Clinical Research Program (STCRP) and the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials for Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE). Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) was conducted to identify the factor structure of PANSS and validated with a meta-analysis (N = 16,171) of existing PANSS models. Temporal stability of the PANSS model and generalizability to individuals at ultra-high risk (UHR) of psychosis were evaluated. A five-factor solution best fit the PANSS data. These were the i) Positive, ii) Negative, iii) Cognitive/disorganization, iv) Depression/anxiety and v) Hostility factors. Convergence of PANSS symptom architecture between EFA model and meta-analysis was observed. Modest longitudinal reliability was observed. The schizophrenia derived PANSS factor model fit the UHR population, but not vice versa. We found that two other domains, Social Amotivation (SA) and Diminished Expression (DE), were nested within the negative symptoms factor. Here, we report one of the largest transethnic factorial structures of PANSS symptom domains (N = 19,682). Evidence reported here serves as crucial consolidation of a common PANSS structure that could aid in furthering our understanding of schizophrenia.

Keywords: Exploratory factor analysis; Factor structure; Meta-analysis; PANSS; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotic Disorders*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Schizophrenia* / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia* / drug therapy
  • Singapore