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Cognitive function and treatment response trajectories in first-episode schizophrenia: evidence from a prospective cohort study

Millgate, Edward, Griffiths, Kira, Egerton, Alice, Kravariti, Eugenia, Casetta, Cecilia, Deakin, Bill, Drake, Richard, Howes, Oliver D, Kassoumeri, Laura, Khan, Sobia, Lankshear, Steve, Lees, Jane, Lewis, Shon, Mikulskaya, Elena, Oloyede, Ebenezer, Owens, Rebecca, Pollard, Rebecca, Rich, Nathalie, Smart, Sophie ORCID:, Segev, Aviv, Verena Sendt, Kyra and MacCabe, James 2022. Cognitive function and treatment response trajectories in first-episode schizophrenia: evidence from a prospective cohort study. BMJ Open 12 (11) , e062570. 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-062570

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Objectives: This prospective cohort study tested for associations between baseline cognitive performance in individuals early within their first episode and antipsychotic treatment of psychosis. We hypothesised that poorer cognitive functioning at the initial assessment would be associated with poorer antipsychotic response following the subsequent 6 weeks. Design: Prospective cohort . Setting: National Health Service users with a first-episode schizophrenia diagnosis, recently starting antipsychotic medication, recruited from two UK sites (King’s College London, UK and University of Manchester, UK). Participants attended three study visits following screening. Participants: Eighty-nine participants were recruited, with 46 included in the main analysis. Participants required to be within the first 2 years of illness onset, had received minimal antipsychotic treatment, have the capacity to provide consent, and be able to read and write in English. Participants were excluded if they met remission criteria or showed mild to no symptoms. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Antipsychotic response was determined at 6 weeks using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), with cognitive performance assessed at each visit using the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS). The groups identified (responders and non-responders) from trajectory analyses, as well as from >20% PANSS criteria, were compared on baseline BACS performance. Results: Trajectory analyses identified 84.78% of the sample as treatment responsive, and the remaining 15.22% as treatment non-responsive. Unadjusted and adjusted logistic regressions observed no significant relationship between baseline BACS on subscale and total performance (BACS t-score: OR=0.98, p=0.620, Cohen’s d=0.218) and antipsychotic response at 6 weeks. Conclusions: This investigation identified two clear trajectories of treatment response in the first 6 weeks of antipsychotic treatment. Responder and non-responder groups did not significantly differ on performance on the BACS, suggesting that larger samples may be required or that an association between cognitive performance and antipsychotic response is not observable in the first 2 years of illness onset. Trial registration number: REC: 17/NI/0209.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Start Date: 2022-11-21, Type: open-access
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 December 2022
Date of Acceptance: 2 November 2022
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2023 08:39

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