Maat A, Fett AK, Derks E,
Schizophr. Res. 2012 May;137(1-3):212-8
Schizophrenia is associated with poor quality of life (QOL). Whereas the effects of neurocognitive deficits and psychopathology on QOL of schizophrenia patients have recently been elucidated, little is known about social cognitive deficits in this regard. This study investigated the influence of social cognition on QOL in schizophrenia. A sample of 1032 patients, 1011 of their siblings, and 552 healthy controls was recruited from the Dutch Genetic Risk and Outcome in Psychosis (GROUP) study. Participants completed a battery of cognitive tests, including social cognitive tests on theory of mind and emotion perception. To assess QOL the World Health Organization QOL Assessment-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF) was used. Schizophrenia symptoms were assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). Social cognitive performance was significantly worse in patients compared to siblings and healthy controls. Patients had the poorest QOL, while QOL in healthy controls was better than in siblings. Theory of mind but not emotion perception or neurocognition was associated with QOL in patients, whereas neurocognition was the only significant predictor of QOL in siblings and healthy controls. There was a significant interaction between theory of mind and symptom severity with respect to QOL. Our study indicates that social cognition is associated with QOL in schizophrenia. Theory of mind rather than emotion perception is associated with QOL, and this association is moderated by schizophrenia symptoms. In particular, patients with relatively unimpaired theory of mind and more severe schizophrenia symptoms have poor QOL and could therefore benefit from therapeutic intervention.