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Schizophr Res. 2001 Mar 30;48(2-3):351-60.

Social skills performance assessment among older patients with schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0680, USA.



Social functioning is an important outcome dimension in schizophrenia. Measures of social skills frequently rely on self-report, and most measures which directly assess social functioning are time consuming. Here we describe a brief performance-based measure, the Social Skills Performance Assessment (SSPA), modified from an instrument published by Bellack et al. (Bellack, A., Morrison, R., Wixted, J., Mueser, K., 1990. An analysis of social competence in schizophrenia. Br. J. Psychiatry 156, 809--818).


83 middle-aged and elderly patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, and 52 normal comparison subjects (NCs) were rated on two standardized role plays, one requiring introduction to a stranger and another requiring assertive behavior with their landlord. Ratings in eight areas ranging from 'social appropriateness' to 'grooming' were made.


SSPA required about 12 min to complete both role play and ratings, and had excellent interrater reliability, and good test-retest reliability. Patients demonstrated significantly greater disability in all areas of social functioning compared with NCs. Social performance was related to severity of negative symptoms and cognitive deficits, but not that of positive or depressive symptoms. SSPA scores were significantly correlated with health-related quality of well-being and observed performance on activities of daily living, but not to a self-reported measure of social functioning.


The SSPA is a reliable and useful instrument. Direct assessment of social skills may provide a more accurate picture of functioning than self-report measures among patients who frequently lack insight into their own behavior.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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