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Tests of executive functions in first-degree relatives of schizophrenic patients: a meta-analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 August 2004

ANDREI SZÖKE
Affiliation:
Service de Psychiatrie Adulte, Hôpital Albert Chenevier et Henri Mondor (Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris), 94000 Créteil, France Unité INSERM U 513, ‘Neurobiologie et Psychiatrie’, Hôpital Henri Mondor, 94000 Créteil, France
FRANCK SCHÜRHOFF
Affiliation:
Service de Psychiatrie Adulte, Hôpital Albert Chenevier et Henri Mondor (Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris), 94000 Créteil, France Unité INSERM U 513, ‘Neurobiologie et Psychiatrie’, Hôpital Henri Mondor, 94000 Créteil, France
FLAVIE MATHIEU
Affiliation:
Unité INSERM U 513, ‘Neurobiologie et Psychiatrie’, Hôpital Henri Mondor, 94000 Créteil, France
ALEXANDRE MEARY
Affiliation:
Service de Psychiatrie Adulte, Hôpital Albert Chenevier et Henri Mondor (Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris), 94000 Créteil, France Unité INSERM U 513, ‘Neurobiologie et Psychiatrie’, Hôpital Henri Mondor, 94000 Créteil, France
SERBAN IONESCU
Affiliation:
Faculté de Psychologie, Université ‘René Descartes’, Paris 5, 75270 Paris, France
MARION LEBOYER
Affiliation:
Service de Psychiatrie Adulte, Hôpital Albert Chenevier et Henri Mondor (Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris), 94000 Créteil, France Unité INSERM U 513, ‘Neurobiologie et Psychiatrie’, Hôpital Henri Mondor, 94000 Créteil, France

Abstract

Background. Executive dysfunctions in relatives of schizophrenic patients may be trait markers of genetic liability and thus help us to elucidate the aetiology of schizophrenia. As a large amount of data has been published, a synthesis through a meta-analysis was needed to demonstrate the existence of executive impairments in relatives of schizophrenic patients and to assess their magnitude.

Method. We conducted a meta-analysis of articles that compared performances of controls and relatives of schizophrenic patients on the four tests most frequently used to assess executive functions: the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), the Trail Making Test (TMT), the Stroop Test and the Verbal Fluency (VF) Test. When needed and possible, published data were supplemented with information from the authors. After assessing the homogeneity of the data, effect sizes were estimated and publication bias was tested by use of funnel plots.

Results. Relatives of schizophrenic patients performed less well than controls on all executive tests analysed. Effect estimates were in the small to moderate range (from 0·26 to 0·49) for Stroop, WCST and TMT, but were greater for the fluency tests (0·65 for phonological and 0·87 for semantic VF).

Conclusion. Relatives of schizophrenic patients appear to have wide, although not severe, executive dysfunctions. As the sensitivity of the different tests for impairments in relatives is not the same, the choice of test and method used should be carefully assessed.

Type
Review Article
Copyright
© 2004 Cambridge University Press

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