Unraveling interrelationships among psychopathology symptoms, cognitive domains and insight dimensions in chronic schizophrenia


Introduction- Insight in schizophrenia is long known to have a complex relationship with psychopathology symptoms and cognition. However, very few studies have examined models that explain these interrelationships.

Methods- In a large sample derived from the NIMH Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) schizophrenia trial (N = 1391), we interrogated these interrelationships for potential causal pathways using structural equation modeling. Using the NIMH consensus model, latent variables were constructed for psychopathology symptom dimensions, including positive, negative, disorganized, excited and depressed from the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) items. Neurocognitive variables were created from five predefined domains of working memory, verbal memory, reasoning, vigilance and processing speed. Illness insight and treatment insight were tested using latent variables constructed from the Illness and Treatment Attitude Questionnaire (ITAQ).

Results- Disorganized symptoms had the strongest effect on insight. Illness insight mediated the relationship of positive, depressed, and disorganized symptoms with treatment insight. Neurocognition mediated the relationship between disorganized and treatment insight and depressed symptoms and treatment insight. There was no effect of negative symptoms on either illness insight or treatment insight. Taken together, our results indicate overlapping and unique relational paths for illness and treatment insight dimensions, which could suggest differences in causal mechanisms and potential interventions to improve insight.

Schizophrenia Research