The longitudinal structure of negative symptoms in treatment resistant schizophrenia

Noham Wolpe, Aya Vituri, Peter B. Jones, Moni Shahar, Emilio Fernandez-Egea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background and hypothesis: The negative symptoms of schizophrenia are strong prognostic factors but remain poorly understood and treated. Five negative symptom domains are frequently clustered into the motivation and pleasure (MAP) and emotional expression (EE) ‘dimensions’, but whether this structure remains stable and behaves as a single entity or not remains unclear. Study design: We examined a cohort of 153 patients taking clozapine for treatment-resistant schizophrenia in a regional mental health clinic. Patients were assessed longitudinally over a mean period of 45 months using validated scales for positive, negative and mood symptoms. Network analyses were performed to identify symptom ‘communities’ and their stability over time. The influence of common causes of secondary negative symptoms as well as centrality measures were also examined. Study results: Across patients at baseline, two distinct communities matching the clinical domains of MAP and EE were found. These communities remained highly stable and independent over time. The communities remained stabled when considering psychosis, depression, and sedation severity, and these causes of secondary negative symptoms were clustered into the MAP community. Centrality measures also remained stable over time, with similar centrality measures across symptoms. Conclusions: Our results suggest that MAP and EE are independent dimensions that remain highly stable over time in chronic schizophrenia patients treated with clozapine. Common causes of secondary negative symptoms mapped onto the MAP dimension. Our results emphasise the need for clinical trials to address either MAP or EE, and that treating causes of secondary negative symptoms may improve MAP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152440
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
StatePublished - Jan 2024


FundersFunder number
Medical Research Council
National Institute for Health and Care ResearchACF-2019-14-013
Israel Science Foundation1603/22
NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research CentreBRC-1215-20014


    • Apathy
    • Longitudinal analysis
    • Motivation
    • Negative symptoms
    • Network analysis
    • Schizophrenia


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