Neuropsychological impairments predict the clinical course in schizophrenia

European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Wolfgang WölwerGerman Study Group on First Episode Schizophrenia


To add to the open question whether cognitive impairments predict clinical outcome in schizophrenia, a sample of 125 first episode patients was assessed at the onset and over one year of controlled long-term treatment within a study of the German Research Network on Schizophrenia. No relapse according to predefined criteria occurred within the first year, but a total of 29 patients fulfilled post-hoc criteria of "clinical deterioration". Impairments in cognitive functioning assessed by the Trail-Making Test B at the onset of long-term treatment differentiated between patients with vs. without later clinical deterioration and proved to be a significant predictor of the clinical course in a regression analysis outperforming initial clinical status as predictor. However, low sensitivity (72%) and specificity (51%) limit possibilities of a transfer to individual predictions. As a linear combination of neuropsychological and psychopathological variables obtained highest predictive validity, such a combination may improve the prediction of the course of schizophrenic disorders and may ultimately lead to a more efficient and comprehensive treatment planning.


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