Paper in Early Intervention in Psychiatry
  • Chudleigh, C., Naismith, S.L., Blaszczynski, A., Hermens, D.F., Hodge, M.A.R. and Hickie, I.B. (2011). How does social functioning in the early stages of psychosis relate to depression and social anxiety?. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-7893.2011.00280.x.

    Aims: The study aims to compare social functioning in young people considered to be at risk of psychosis with those meeting criteria for first episode psychosis (FEP) and controls, and to determine the association between social functioning and positive and negative symptoms, depressive symptoms, and social anxiety.

    Methods: This study examined social functioning in 20 individuals at risk of psychosis, 20 FEP patients and 20 healthy controls. Social functioning was measured using the Social Functioning Scale and World Health Organization Disability Assessment Scale. Psychiatric variables were also measured using the Comprehensive Assessment of At-Risk Mental States, the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, the Brief Social Phobia Scale, and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale.

    Results: At-risk individuals had comparable social deficits to the FEP group, and both patient groups had significantly poorer social functioning than controls. Importantly, social functioning was most strongly associated with depressive and social anxiety symptoms and to a lesser extent with positive symptoms. However, negative symptoms did not appear to relate to social functioning.

    Conclusion: Social functioning impairments precede the onset of full-threshold psychosis and may therefore be a significant marker for the illness. Additionally, associated psychiatric symptoms such as depression and social anxiety may provide an avenue for early interventions of social functioning deficits in psychosis.