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Schizophr Res. 2008 Aug;103(1-3):240-7. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2008.05.006. Epub 2008 Jun 20.

Communication abnormalities predict functional outcomes in chronic schizophrenia: differential associations with social and adaptive functions.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1425 Madison Ave, 4th Floor, Box 1230, New York, NY 10029, USA. christopher.bowie@mssm.edu

Abstract

Communication abnormalities are hallmark features of schizophrenia. Despite the prevalence and persistence of these symptoms, little is known about their functional implications. In this study, we examined, in a sample of chronically institutionalized schizophrenia patients (N=317), whether two types of communication abnormalities (i.e., verbal underproductivity and disconnected speech) had differential relationships with social and adaptive outcomes. Baseline ratings of verbal underproductivity, disconnected speech, global cognitive performance, and clinical symptoms, were entered into stepwise regression analyses to examine their relationship with 2.5 year social and adaptive outcomes. At baseline, disconnected speech was significantly associated with socially impolite behavior, while verbal underproductivity was associated with social disengagement and impaired friendships. Both types of communication abnormalities were significantly associated with other types of social skills. Verbal underproductivity predicted follow-up social skills, social engagement, and friendships, accounting for more variance than. cognition or symptoms. In contrast to social outcomes, adaptive outcomes were predicted by baseline neurocognition and clinical symptoms, but not communication abnormalities. These findings provide evidence for specific relationships of communication disorder subtypes with diverse impairments in social functions. In this chronically institutionalized sample, communication disorder was a stronger predictor of social, but not adaptive, outcomes than neurocognition or clinical symptoms.

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