The timing of negative symptom exacerbations in relationship to positive symptom exacerbations in the early course of schizophrenia

Joseph Ventura, Keith H. Nuechterlein, Michael F. Green, William P. Horan, Kenneth L. Subotnik, Jim Mintz

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24 Scopus citations


Although positive and negative symptoms appear to represent independent symptom dimensions of psychopathology when evaluated cross-sectionally among individuals with schizophrenia, it is not known if exacerbations of symptoms on these two dimensions are independent. This prospective longitudinal study examined the temporal relationship between the positive and negative symptom exacerbations among 48 recent-onset schizophrenia or schizoaffective patients who received symptom ratings every 2 weeks on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. Patients were followed for a period of at least 1 year and a mean of 3 years. To examine the temporal relationship between positive and negative symptoms, six time periods were defined in relation to psychotic exacerbation or relapse (e.g., prodromal, concurrent, post-psychotic) and used to compare the timing of positive and negative symptom exacerbations. A substantial proportion of patients had exacerbations of positive symptoms (77%) and negative (42%) symptoms. Negative symptom exacerbations occurred simultaneously with positive symptom exacerbations to a significantly greater extent than expected by chance, and occurred less frequently than expected by chance during the time period most temporally removed from positive symptom exacerbations. Results suggest that the timing of some negative symptom exacerbations is linked to that of positive symptom exacerbations during the early course of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-342
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Research Grants MH37705 (PI: Keith H. Nuechterlein, PhD) and MH30911 (PI: Robert P. Liberman, MD) and Training Grant MH14584 (PI: Keith H. Nuechterlein, PhD) from the National Institute of Mental Health. The authors wish to thank Tim Wilke, BA, Sandy Rappe, MSW, David Fogelson, MD, Margie Stratton, MA, Craig Childress, MA, Rhonda Daily, Daniel Gutkind, BA, and the patients of the Aftercare Research Program for their contributions to this project. Statistical assistance was provided by Sun Hwang, MS, MPH, of the Methodology and Statistical Support Unit of the Clinical Research Center for the Study of Schizophrenia.


  • Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale
  • Psychopathology
  • Schizophrenia


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