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Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Dec;195(6):475-82. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.055731.

Cognitive functioning in schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and affective psychoses: meta-analytic study.

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  • 1Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Alan Gilbert Building, National Neuroscience Facility, Level 3, Victoria 3053, Australia.



Cognitive functioning in affective psychosis and schizoaffective disorder is much less studied compared with schizophrenia.


To quantitatively undertake a meta-analysis of the available data that directly compares cognitive functioning across schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and affective psychosis.


Following a thorough literature review, 31 studies that compared the performances of people with schizophrenia (1979 participants) with that of those with affective psychosis or schizoaffective disorder (1314 participants) were included. To determine the effect of demographic and clinical confounders, meta-regression and subgroup analyses were conducted.


In 6 of 12 cognitive domains, people with schizophrenia performed worse than people with schizoaffective disorder or affective psychosis. However, the between-group differences were small and the distribution of effect sizes showed substantial heterogeneity. The between-group differences were driven by a higher percentage of males, more severe negative symptoms and younger age at onset of illness in the schizophrenia samples.


Neuropsychological data do not provide evidence for categorical differences between schizophrenia and other groups. However, a subgroup of individuals with schizophrenia who have more severe negative symptoms may be cognitively more impaired than those with affective psychosis/schizoaffective disorder.

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