In 170 schizophrenia patients, a two-step cluster analysis identified two groups of patients with different levels of autistic and positive symptom severity. Using general linear models, we examined the interactions of groups, autistic and positive symptoms on functioning.
Autistic and positive symptoms were interactively associated with better functioning, but only in the symptomatically less severe patients. In contrast, autistic and positive symptoms were independently associated with worse functioning in the symptomatically more severe patients. These associations were observed above and beyond the effects of I.Q. and illness duration.
The findings highlight the complex role played by co-occurring autistic symptoms in schizophrenia, whose beneficial effects on functioning appear to depend on patients’ psychopathological severity. Our findings may help to reconcile the seemingly contrasting results from previous studies, and to understand the heterogeneity of behavior and functional outcomes in schizophrenia. This study underscores the potential utility of routinely assessing autism in schizophrenia, in order to better formulate individualized rehabilitative programs.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.