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The conceptualization of negative symptoms (NS) in schizophrenia is still controversial. Recent confirmatory factor-analytic studies suggested that the bi-dimensional model (motivational deficit [MAP] and expressive deficit [EXP]) may not capture the complexity of NS structure, which could be better defined by a five-factor (five NS domains) or a hierarchical model (five NS domains as first-order factors, and MAP and EXP, as second-order factors). A validation of these models is needed to define the structure of NS. To evaluate the validity and temporal stability of the five-factor or the hierarchical structure of the brief negative symptom scale (BNSS) in individuals with schizophrenia (SCZ), exploring associations between these models with cognition, social cognition, functional capacity, and functioning at baseline and at 4 years follow-up.
Clinical variables were assessed using state-of-the-art tools in 612 SCZ at two-time points. The validity of the five-factor and the hierarchical models was analyzed through structural equation models.
The two models had both a good fit and showed a similar pattern of associations with external validators at the two-time points, with minor variations. The five-factor solution had a slightly better fit. The associations with external validators favored the five-factor structure.
Our findings suggest that both five-factor and hierarchical models provide a valid conceptualization of NS in relation to external variables and that five-factor solution provides the best balance between parsimony and granularity to summarize the BNSS structure. This finding has important implications for the study of pathophysiological mechanisms and the development of new treatments.
Autistic symptoms represent a frequent feature in schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD). However, the prevalence and the cognitive and functional correlates of autistic symptoms in unaffected first-degree relatives of people with SSD remain to be assessed.
A total of 342 unaffected first-degree relatives related to 247 outpatients with schizophrenia were recruited as part of the multicenter study of the Italian Network for Research on Psychoses (NIRP). Autistic features were measured with the PANSS Autism Severity Scale. Three groups of participants, defined on the presence and severity of autistic symptoms, were compared on a wide array of cognitive and functional measures.
Of the total sample, 44.9% presented autistic symptoms; 22.8% showed moderate levels of autistic symptoms, which can be observed in the majority of people with SSD. Participants with higher levels of autistic symptoms showed worse performance on Working Memory (p = 0.014) and Social Cognition (p = 0.025) domains and in the Global Cognition composite score (p = 0.008), as well as worse on functional capacity (p = 0.001), global psychosocial functioning (p < 0.001), real-world interpersonal relationships (p < 0.001), participation in community activities (p = 0.017), and work skills (p = 0.006).
A high prevalence of autistic symptoms was observed in first-degree relatives of people with SSD. Autistic symptoms severity showed a negative correlation with cognitive performance and functional outcomes also in this population and may represent a diagnostic and treatment target of considerable scientific and clinical interest in both patients and their first-degree relatives.
The structure of negative symptoms of schizophrenia is still a matter of controversy. Although a two-dimensional model (comprising the expressive deficit dimension and the motivation and pleasure dimension) has gained a large consensus, it has been questioned by recent investigations.
To investigate the latent structure of negative symptoms and its stability over time in people with schizophrenia using network analysis.
Negative symptoms were assessed in 612 people with schizophrenia using the Brief Negative Symptom Scale (BNSS) at baseline and at 4-year follow-up. A network invariance analysis was conducted to investigate changes in the network structure and strength of connections between the two time points.
The network analysis carried out at baseline and follow-up, supported by community detection analysis, indicated that the BNSS's items aggregate to form four or five distinct domains (avolition/asociality, anhedonia, blunted affect and alogia). The network invariance test indicated that the network structure remained unchanged over time (network invariance test score 0.13; P = 0.169), although its overall strength decreased (6.28 at baseline, 5.79 at follow-up; global strength invariance test score 0.48; P = 0.016).
The results lend support to a four- or five-factor model of negative symptoms and indicate overall stability over time. These data have implications for the study of pathophysiological mechanisms and the development of targeted treatments for negative symptoms.
Different electrophysiological (EEG) indices have been investigated as possible biomarkers of schizophrenia. However, these indices have a very limited use in clinical practice, as their associations with clinical and functional outcomes remain unclear. This study aimed to investigate the associations of multiple EEG markers with clinical variables and functional outcomes in subjects with schizophrenia (SCZs).
Resting-state EEGs (frequency bands and microstates) and auditory event-related potentials (MMN-P3a and N100-P3b) were recorded in 113 SCZs and 57 healthy controls (HCs) at baseline. Illness- and functioning-related variables were assessed both at baseline and at 4-year follow-up in 61 SCZs. We generated a machine-learning classifier for each EEG parameter (frequency bands, microstates, N100-P300 task, and MMN-P3a task) to identify potential markers discriminating SCZs from HCs, and a global classifier. Associations of the classifiers’ decision scores with illness- and functioning-related variables at baseline and follow-up were then investigated.
The global classifier discriminated SCZs from HCs with an accuracy of 75.4% and its decision scores significantly correlated with negative symptoms, depression, neurocognition, and real-life functioning at 4-year follow-up.
These results suggest that a combination of multiple EEG alterations is associated with poor functional outcomes and its clinical and cognitive determinants in SCZs. These findings need replication, possibly looking at different illness stages in order to implement EEG as a possible tool for the prediction of poor functional outcome.
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. During the period from 2002 through 2004, a group of Italian hospitals was recruited to conduct HAI point-prevalence surveys.
Three point-prevalence surveys.
A total of 9,609 patients were surveyed.
The overall frequency of HAI was 6.7% (645 infections among the 9,609 surveyed patients). The most frequent HAIs were lower respiratory tract infections, which accounted for 35.8% (231 of 645 HAIs) of all HAIs, followed by urinary tract infections (152 [23.6%] of 645 HAIs), bloodstream infections (90 [14.0%] of 645 HAIs), and surgical site infections (79 [12.2%] of 645 HAIs). In both multivariate and univariate analysis, invasive procedures, duration of stay, chemotherapy, trauma, coma, and the location of the hospital were all factors statistically significantly associated with the occurrence of an HAL Enterobacteriaceae were the most common isolates recovered in medical and surgical wards, whereas gram-negative aerobic bacilli were the most common isolates recovered in intensive care units. Approximately one-half of all of the patients surveyed were receiving antibiotics at the time of our study; the most used antibiotic classes were fluoroquinolones in medical wards, cephalosporins in surgical wards, and penicillins and glycopeptides in intensive care units.
Our study emphasizes the need for implementing further HAI surveillance to provide the National Health System with proper tools to prevent and manage infection in hospitalized patients.
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