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Schizophr Res. 2001 Dec 1;52(3):215-29.

Integrating psychopathological dimensions in functional psychoses: a hierarchical approach.

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  • 1Psychiatric Unit I of the Virgen del Camino Hospital, Irunlarrea 4, 31008 Pamplona, Spain.


Previous factor analysis studies of psychotic symptomatology have demonstrated three psychopathological dimensions: positive, negative and disorganization. However, few studies have analyzed non-schizophrenic samples and most use a syndrome-level of analysis or only schizophrenic symptom scales. This study examined how many dimensions underlie psychosis, and whether within psychosis there is a hierarchical organization of dimensions.A total of 660 inpatients with an acute psychotic episode were studied. Psychopathology was measured through a wide psychopathological assessment using the Manual for the Assessment and Documentation of Psychopathology (AMDP-system). Principal component factor analysis was carried out on 64 psychopathological symptoms scoring 1 or higher in at least 10% of the sample. A 15-factor solution was obtained which failed to depict a psychosis model on clinical and methodological grounds. Further predetermined factor analyses ranging from 1 to 15 factors were carried out to examine alternative factor solutions. A 10-dimensional model was the best model on clinical, statistical and conceptual grounds. Moreover, the examination of the 1 to 10 dimensional models allowed us to infer a hierarchical model of psychopathological dimensions, which can be represented in the frame of a tree-structure. The model permitted transitions between psychiatric categories and psychopathological dimensions, and it was able to integrate previous factor solutions with different numbers of resulting dimensions.The findings have implications for the design of future studies and for the hierarchical conceptualization of psychopathological dimensions.

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