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Premorbid adjustment (PA) abnormalities in psychotic disorders are associated with an earlier age at onset (AAO) and unfavorable clinical outcomes, including treatment resistance. Prior family studies suggest that familial liability, likely reflecting increased genetic risk, and socioeconomic status (SES) contribute to premorbid maladjustment. However, their joint effect possibly indicating gene–environment interaction has not been evaluated.
We examined whether family history of psychosis (FHP) and parental SES may predict PA and AAO in unrelated cases with first-episode psychosis (n = 108) and schizophrenia (n = 104). Premorbid academic and social functioning domains during childhood and early adolescence were retrospectively assessed. Regression analyses were performed to investigate main effects of FHP and parental SES, as well as their interaction. The relationships between PA, AAO, and response to antipsychotic medication were also explored.
Positive FHP associated with academic PA difficulties and importantly interacted with parental SES to moderate social PA during childhood (interaction p = 0.024). Positive FHP and parental SES did not predict differences in AAO. Nevertheless, an earlier AAO was observed among cases with worse social PA in childhood (β = −0.20; p = 0.005) and early adolescence (β = −0.19; p = 0.007). Further, confirming evidence emerged for an association between deficient childhood social PA and poor treatment response (p = 0.04).
Familial risk for psychosis may interact with parental socioeconomic position influencing social PA in childhood. In addition, this study supports the link between social PA deviations, early psychosis onset, and treatment resistance, which highlights premorbid social functioning as a promising clinical indicator.
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