First-episode psychosis (FEP) patients show structural brain abnormalities. Whether the changes are progressive or not remain under debate, and the results from longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies are mixed. We investigated if FEP patients showed a different pattern of regional brain structural change over a 1-year period compared with healthy controls, and if putative changes correlated with clinical characteristics and outcome.
MRIs of 79 FEP patients [SCID-I-verified diagnoses: schizophrenia, psychotic bipolar disorder, or other psychoses, mean age 27.6 (s.d. = 7.7) years, 66% male] and 82 healthy controls [age 29.3 (s.d. = 7.2) years, 66% male] were acquired from the same 1.5 T scanner at baseline and 1-year follow-up as part of the Thematically Organized Psychosis (TOP) study, Oslo, Norway. Scans were automatically processed with the longitudinal stream in FreeSurfer that creates an unbiased within-subject template image. General linear models were used to analyse longitudinal change in a wide range of subcortical volumes and detailed thickness and surface area estimates across the entire cortex, and associations with clinical characteristics.
FEP patients and controls did not differ significantly in annual percentage change in cortical thickness or area in any cortical region, or in any of the subcortical structures after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Within the FEP group, duration of untreated psychosis, age at illness onset, antipsychotic medication use and remission at follow-up were not related to longitudinal brain change.
We found no significant longitudinal brain changes over a 1-year period in FEP patients. Our results do not support early progressive brain changes in psychotic disorders.
To determine if the Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire (BMQ) has satisfactory psychometric properties in patients with severe mental disorders and if their scores differ from those of patients with severe medical disorders. To investigate if the scores are related to medication adherence.
Two hundred and eighty psychiatric patients completed the BMQ and reported how much of their medication they had taken the past week. Serum concentrations of medications were analyzed. BMQ scores were compared with those of patients with chronic medical disorders.
Cronbach's alpha was satisfactory for all subscales. The psychiatric group scored lower on the necessity of taking medication than the medical group. Non-adherent patients felt medication to be less necessary and were more concerned about it than adherent patients. The necessity subscale predicted adherence fairly well.
The BMQ has satisfactory psychometric properties for use in patients with severe mental disorders. The constructs measured by the BMQ are related to adherence in these patients.
Impaired emotion perception is documented for schizophrenia, but findings have been mixed for bipolar disorder. In healthy samples females perform better than males. This study compared emotion perception in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and investigated the effects of gender.
Visual (facial pictures) and auditory (sentences) emotional stimuli were presented for identification and discrimination in groups of participants with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and healthy controls.
Visual emotion perception was unimpaired in both clinical groups, but the schizophrenia sample showed reduced auditory emotion perception. Healthy males and male schizophrenia subjects performed worse than their female counterparts, whereas there were no gender differences within the bipolar group.
A disease-specific auditory emotion processing deficit was confirmed in schizophrenia, especially for males. Participants with bipolar disorder performed unimpaired.
Social anxiety is a common problem in psychotic disorders. The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale, Self-Rating version (LSAS-SR) is a widely used instrument to capture different aspects of social anxiety, but its psychometric properties have not been tested in this patient group. The aims of the present study were to evaluate the psychometric properties of the LSAS-SR in patients with first episode psychosis, to investigate whether it differentiated between active and passive social withdrawal and to test which clinical factors contributed to current level of social anxiety.
A total of 144 first episode psychosis patients from the ongoing Thematically Organized Psychosis (TOP) study were included at the time of first treatment. Diagnoses were set according to the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID-1) for DSM-IV. A factor analysis was carried out and the relationship of social anxiety to psychotic and general symptomatology measured by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) was evaluated. Possible contributors to social anxiety were analyzed using multiple hierarchic regression analysis.
The factor analysis identified three subscales: public performance, social interaction and observation. All three subscales showed satisfactory psychometric properties, acceptable convergent and discriminate properties, and confirmed previous findings in social anxiety samples. Self-esteem explained a significant amount of the variance in social anxiety, even after adjusting for the effects of delusions, suspiciousness and depression.
The study shows that the LSAS-SR can be used in this patient group, that social anxiety is strongly related to both behavioral social avoidance and to self-esteem. The results support the use of this measure in assessment of social anxiety in both clinical settings and in research.