Social skills, negative symptoms and real-world functioning in individuals at ultra-high risk of psychosis
Asian J Psychiatr. 2021 Dec 30;69:102996. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2021.102996. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Impairment in real-world social functioning is observed in individuals at Ultra-High Risk (UHR) of psychosis. Both social skills and negative symptoms appear to influence real-world functioning. This study aims to examine the psychometric properties of a social skills measure, the High-Risk Social Challenge task (HiSoC), and evaluate the relationship between social skills, negative symptoms, and real-world functioning in UHR individuals.
METHODS: HiSoC data was analysed in 87 UHR individuals and 358 healthy controls. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was used to evaluate the factor structure of the HiSoC task. Convergent and divergent validity were assessed. Negative symptoms were assessed on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and real-world functioning was indexed by the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF). Commonality analysis was used to partition unique and shared variance of HiSoC and negative symptoms with real-world functioning.
RESULTS: EFA yielded a three-factor structure of HiSoC consisting of Affect, Odd behaviour and language, and Social-interpersonal. The HiSoC task discriminated UHR and healthy controls (p < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.437-0.598). Commonality analysis revealed that the unique variance of the social amotivation subdomain of negative symptoms was the strongest predictor of GAF (p < .001, R2 = .480). Shared variance of 3.7% between HiSoC Social-interpersonal and social amotivation was observed in relation to functioning.
CONCLUSION: The HiSoC is a psychometrically valid task that is sensitive to identify social skill deficits in UHR. While social skills are related to functioning, experiential negative symptoms appear to be an important target for improving real-world functional outcomes.
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