Negative Symptoms in Schizophrenia Associated with Poorer Outcomes

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A new tool to identify negative symptoms associated with patients with schizophrenia has also found a link between these symptoms and adverse negative outcomes.

Rashmi Patel, PhD, of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London and colleagues used a text-mining tool called the Clinical Record Interactive Search to analyze data on negative symptoms from more than 7,500 patients.

Natural Language Processing was use to identify statement within medical record that referenced negative symptoms, which includes poor motivation, blunted or mood, poor eye contact, emotional withdrawal, social withdrawal and inability to speak.  

Overall, 41% of the patient records identified has at least two negative symptoms. The most common negative symptoms reported were poor motivation (31%), blunted or flattened mood (27%), poor eye contact (26%) and emotional withdrawal (24%).

And these symptoms were associated with a greater likelihood of hospital admission, longer hospital stay, and increased likelihood of being readmitted after discharge, the researchers reported in the journal BMJ Open.

Patients with two or more negative symptoms were 24% more likely to have been admitted to the hospital. Also, the admissions were, on average, an additional 21 days and, when discharged, these individuals had a 58% higher risk of re-admission within 12 months.

“Our data indicate that negative symptoms are an equally important factor, and suggest that a greater emphasis on assessing and treating these features of schizophrenia may have significant health economic benefits,” Patel said in a statement.

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Patients with two or more negative symptoms were 24% more likely to have been admitted to the hospital.

A novel research tool developed by researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London has identified a link between the negative symptoms experienced by people with schizophrenia and adverse clinical outcomes.

Negative symptoms can include poor motivation, poor eye contact and a reduction in speech and activity. As a result, people with schizophrenia often appear emotionless, flat and apathetic. These contrast with positive symptoms - psychotic behaviors not seen in healthy people, such as delusions or hallucinations.

Published in BMJ Open, the study is the largest- ever to investigate a relationship between negative symptoms and clinical outcomes, drawing from a sample of more than 7,500 patients.

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