Obsessive-compulsive symptoms in psychotic disorders: longitudinal associations of symptom clusters on between- and within-subject levels.


Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Centre University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. [Email]


Obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCS) are frequently reported in patients with schizophrenia and have been associated with subjective distress and higher impairment. Recent studies suggest fluctuation in co-occurring OCS and associations with the course of psychotic symptoms. Current evidence is limited by few studies with long assessments intervals and a sole focus on between-subject comparisons. The aim of this study was to specifically investigate co-variation of symptom domains over time within individuals. Patients with a psychotic disorder (n = 56) and un-affected siblings (n = 49) completed monthly assessments of clinical and subclinical symptoms over 6 months. Mixed-model multilevel analyses examined the variability and relationship between OCS and positive, negative, and depressive symptoms on the between- and within-subject level. Symptom domains were associated across subjects and assessment times, in patients and siblings, with the strongest association between OCS and (subclinical) positive symptoms. Within-subjects, substantial variability and co-variation of all symptom domains was found. Particularly, between-subject differences in positive symptoms and within-subject change in depressive symptoms predicted subsequent OCS in patients 1 months later. This is the first prospective study disaggregating between and within-subject associations between co-occurring OCS and symptom cluster of psychosis. Differences on these two levels suggest different underlying mechanisms. The association between depressive symptoms and subsequent increase/decrease of OCS within patients may have important treatment implications.



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