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Psychiatry Res. 2007 Dec 3;153(3):217-23. Epub 2007 Aug 1.

Positive family history is associated with persistent elevated emotional distress in schizophrenia: evidence from a 16-month follow-up study.

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Sha'ar Menashe Mental Health Center, Hadera, Israel; Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion, Haifa, Israel.


There is some evidence that emotional reactivity to daily life stress is related to a genetic or familial liability to develop schizophrenia. However, it is unclear whether the emotional distress is elevated in schizophrenia patients with positive compared to negative family history. The aim of the study was to test the hypothesis that a persistent higher level of emotional distress in schizophrenia subjects is associated with a positive family history of schizophrenia. This study used the Talbieh Brief Distress Inventory (TBDI), the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS; including dysphoric mood, positive and negative subscales), Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), and the Distress Scale for Adverse Symptoms (DSAS) to investigate the difference in the magnitude of emotional distress scores between schizophrenia subjects with and without a positive family history of schizophrenia over time. Data were recorded for 69 multiplex family and 79 singleton patients at admission and about 16 months thereafter. No between-group differences were obtained in PANSS and DSAS scores. With regard to the TBDI: (a) both group of patients had no significant differences in emotional distress scores at admission; (b) patients with negative family history reported improvement in distress severity and depression severity (MADRS) 16 months after admission, while those with positive family history experienced persistent elevated emotional distress, mainly, on obsessiveness, and depression subscales; and (c) both groups of patients are characterized by elevated emotional distress at follow-up examination compared to healthy subjects. Thus, it appears that there is a strong association between positive family history and persistent elevated emotional distress. Because patients with positive and negative family history are likely to differ in genetic risk, our results suggest that long-term elevated levels of emotional distress may be related to a familial (environmental)/genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia.

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