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Relationships among neurocognition, symptoms and functioning in patients with schizophrenia: a path-analytic approach for associations at baseline and following 24 weeks of antipsychotic drug therapy

DOI: 10.1186/1471-244x-9-44

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Data were obtained from a clinical trial assessing the cognitive effects of selected antipsychotic drugs in patients with schizophrenia. Patients were randomly assigned to 24 weeks of treatment with olanzapine (n = 159), risperidone (n = 158), or haloperidol (n = 97). Psychosocial functioning was assessed with the Heinrichs-Carpenter Quality of Life Scale [QLS], cognition with a standard battery of neurocognitive tests; and psychiatric symptoms with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale [PANSS]. A path-analytic approach was used to evaluate the effects of changes in cognitive functioning on subdomains of quality of life, and to determine whether such effects were direct or mediated via changes in psychiatric symptoms.At baseline, processing speed affected functioning mainly indirectly via negative symptoms. Positive symptoms also affected functioning at baseline although independent of cognition. At 24 weeks, changes in processing speed affected changes in functioning both directly and indirectly via PANSS negative subscale scores. Positive symptoms no longer contributed to the path-analytic models. Although a consistent relationship was observed between processing speed and the 3 functional domains, variation existed as to whether the paths were direct and/or indirect. Working memory and verbal memory did not significantly contribute to any of the path-analytic models studied.Processing speed demonstrated direct and indirect effects via negative symptoms on three domains of functioning as measured by the QLS at baseline and following 24 weeks of antipsychotic treatment.Neurocognitive impairment has been found to be strongly correlated with deficits in psychosocial and occupational functioning in patients with schizophrenia [1,2]. These earlier reviews of the literature (including a meta-analysis) were focused on identifying specific neurocognitive deficits that restrict the functioning of schizophrenia patients, as opposed to the use of more global measures of n


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