Objective: Many studies have validated the grouping of schizophrenic symptoms into three independent dimensions: negative, psychotic, and disorganized. Negative symptoms are considered to be an important prognostic indicator, but this clinical observation requires further empirical study, especially with respect to psychosocial functioning. When present at the onset of the first episode, negative symptoms suggest that the patient will develop significant psychosocial impairment. The predictive values of the psychotic and disorganized symptom dimensions, on the other hand, have been less certain.
Method: In this study of 50 first-episode schizophrenic patients, who were mostly neuroleptic-naive at intake, the authors examined the relationship between the severity of these three symptom dimensions (measured by using the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms and the Scale for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms) at index hospitalization and quality of life at 2-year follow-up.
Results: Negative symptom severity was positively and significantly correlated with later occupational impairment, financial dependence on others, impaired relationships with friends, impaired ability to enjoy recreational activities, and global assessment of functioning. The magnitudes of correlation between the levels of psychotic symptoms or disorganized symptoms and 2-year quality of life measures were comparatively lower. Analyses using multivariate regression statistics also revealed similar findings.
Conclusions: Severity of negative symptoms at index hospitalization may be a portent of poor outcome. In general, severity of psychotic or disorganized symptoms at intake does not appear to predict subsequent quality of life.