A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Association Between Psychopathology and Social Functioning in Schizophrenia

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Impaired social functioning is a major, but under-elucidated area of schizophrenia. It’s typically understood as consequential to, eg, negative symptoms, but meta-analyses on the subject have not examined psychopathology in a broader perspective and there’s severe heterogeneity in outcome measures. To enhance functional recovery from schizophrenia, a more comprehensive understanding of the nature of social functioning in schizophrenia is needed.

Study Design
In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched PubMed, PsycInfo, and Ovid Embase for studies providing an association between psychopathology and social functioning. Meta-analyses of the regression and correlation coefficients were performed to explore associations between social functioning and psychopathology, as well as associations between their subdomains.

Study Results
Thirty-six studies with a total of 4742 patients were included. Overall social functioning was associated with overall psychopathology (95% CI [−0.63; −0.37]), positive symptoms (95% CI [−0.39; −0.25]), negative symptoms (95% CI [−0.61; -0.42]), disorganized symptoms (95% CI [−0.54; −0.14]), depressive symptoms (95% CI [−0.33; −0.11]), and general psychopathology (95% CI [−0.60; −0.43]). There was significant heterogeneity in the results, with I2 ranging from 52% to 92%.

This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis to comprehensively examine associations between psychopathology and social functioning. The finding that all psychopathological subdomains seem to correlate with social functioning challenges the view that impaired social functioning in schizophrenia is mainly a result of negative symptoms. In line with classical psychopathological literature on schizophrenia, it may be more appropriate to consider impaired social functioning as a manifestation of the disorder itself.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1470–1485
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 347402298