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Deficits in social cognition have been reported in people at ultra-high risk (UHR) of psychosis exclusively using socio-cognitive tasks and in adolescent and young adult mixed population.
Aim of this study was (1) to assess subjective experience of social cognition in adolescent help-seekers identified through UHR criteria, (2) to explore its significant correlations with psychopathology and functioning in UHR individuals; and (3) to monitor longitudinally its stability after a 24-month follow-up period.
Participants [51 UHR, 91 first-episode psychosis (FEP), and 48 non-UHR/FEP patients], aged 13–18 years, completed the comprehensive assessment of at-risk mental states and the GEOPTE scale of social cognition for psychosis.
In comparison with non-UHR/FEP patients, both UHR and FEP adolescents showed significantly higher GEOPTE total scores. After 12 months of follow-up, UHR individuals had a significant decrease in severity on GEOPTE “Social Cognition” subscore. In the UHR group at baseline, GEOPTE scores had significant positive correlations with general psychopathology, positive and negative dimensions. Across the 2-year follow-up period, social cognition subscores specifically showed more stable associations with general psychopathology and negative symptoms.
Social cognition deficits are prominent in UHR adolescents and similar in severity to those of FEP patients at baseline. However, these impairments decreased over time, presumably together with delivery of targeted, specialized models for early intervention in psychosis.
Several studies had shown the effectiveness of combined interventions in the treatment of young patients with a first episode of psychosis (FEP). More controversial are the evidence about the stability of the therapeutic outcomes in individuals ultra-high risk (UHR).
To describe the regional project for the treatment of early psychosis implemented in the Reggio Emilia Mental Health Department (ReMHD) and also to report preliminary data from a 2-year follow-up.
In addition with the treatment as usual (TAU), treatment implemented within the regional project for early psychosis (PREP) in the ReMHD comprises the following:
– pharmacotherapy according to international guidelines;
– a phase-specific individualized Cognitive-Behavioural therapy;
– a psycho-educational intervention addressed to family members;
– a case management recovery-oriented.
Action strategies are preceded by the administration of Reggio Emilia at Risk mental States Battery Checklist as a comprehensive assessment useful to define the severity and the quality of symptoms, the degree of functioning, the subjectivity of suffering, and the perceived quality of life.
The assessment carried out after 24 months of continuous treatment showed significant improvements in both the psychotic symptoms (positive, negative and general psychopathology PANSS subscales) that the daily functioning (SOFAS).
Although our sample is still relatively small (n = 50) to draw definitive conclusions, it is emerging the good prognosis for UHR individuals and patients with FEP submitted on PREP treatment implemented in the ReMHD.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
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