L Phahladira, L Asmal, S Kilian, B Chiliza, F Scheffler, HK Luckhoff, S du Plessis and R Emsley,
Schizophrenia research, Oct 29 2018
While insight in schizophrenia improves with treatment, significant impairments often persist. The degree of persistence is not well characterised.We assessed patient and clinician-rated changes in insight in acutely ill, minimally treated first-episode schizophrenia spectrum disorder patients over 24 months of standardised treatment with a depot antipsychotic.This single arm open label longitudinal cohort study included 105 participants with first-episode schizophrenia, schizophreniform or schizoaffective disorder. Insight was assessed at months 0, 6, 12 and 24 using the patient-rated Birchwood Insight Scale (BIS) and clinician-rated global insight item of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). Changes in insight over time were assessed using linear mixed-effect models for continuous repeated measures. Relationships between insight and psychopathology, functionality, cognition and quality of life were assessed with regression models.There was significant improvement over time for the PANSS insight item (p < 0.0001). However, the only significant improvement for the BIS was with the Need for Treatment subscale (p = 0.01). There were no significant improvements noted for the Symptom Attribution (p = 0.7) and Illness Awareness (p = 0.2) subscales, as well as the BIS Total score (p = 0.6). Apart from depressive symptoms at baseline, there were no significant predictors of patient-rated insight.Clinicians should note that, even when treatment is assured and response is favourable, fundamental impairments in patient-rated insight persist.