Simons CJ, Bartels-Velthuis AA, Pijnenborg GH,
PLoS ONE 2016;11(4):e0151299
OBJECTIVE: Studies have linked cognitive functioning to everyday social functioning in psychotic disorders, but the nature of the relationships between cognition, social cognition, symptoms, and social functioning remains unestablished. Modelling the contributions of non-social and social cognitive ability in the prediction of social functioning may help in more clearly defining therapeutic targets to improve functioning.
METHOD: In a sample of 745 patients with a non-affective psychotic disorder, the associations between cognition and social cognition at baseline on the one hand, and self-reported social functioning three years later on the other, were analysed. First, case-control comparisons were conducted; associations were subsequently further explored in patients, investigating the potential mediating role of symptoms. Analyses were repeated in a subsample of 233 patients with recent-onset psychosis.
RESULTS: Information processing speed and immediate verbal memory were stronger associated with social functioning in patients than in healthy controls. Most cognition variables significantly predicted social functioning at follow-up, whereas social cognition was not associated with social functioning. Symptoms were robustly associated with follow-up social functioning, with negative symptoms fully mediating most associations between cognition and follow-up social functioning. Illness duration did not moderate the strength of the association between cognitive functioning and follow-up social functioning. No associations were found between (social) cognition and follow-up social functioning in patients with recent-onset psychosis.
CONCLUSIONS: Although cognitive functioning is associated with later social functioning in psychotic disorder, its role in explaining social functioning outcome above negative symptoms appears only modest. In recent-onset psychosis, cognition may have a negligible role in predicting later social functioning. Moreover, social cognition tasks may not predict self-reported social functioning.