Structure and stability of symptoms in first episode psychosis: a longitudinal network approach.
Early psychosis is characterised by heterogeneity in illness trajectories, where outcomes remain poor for many. Understanding psychosis symptoms and their relation to illness outcomes, from a novel network perspective, may help to delineate psychopathology within early psychosis and identify pivotal targets for intervention. Using network modelling in first episode psychosis (FEP), this study aimed to identify: (a) key central and bridge symptoms most influential in symptom networks, and (b) examine the structure and stability of the networks at baseline and 12-month follow-up. Data on 1027 participants with FEP were taken from the National EDEN longitudinal study and used to create regularised partial correlation networks using the 'EBICglasso' algorithm for positive, negative, and depressive symptoms at baseline and at 12-months. Centrality and bridge estimations were computed using a permutation-based network comparison test. Depression featured as a central symptom in both the baseline and 12-month networks. Conceptual disorganisation, stereotyped thinking, along with hallucinations and suspiciousness featured as key bridge symptoms across the networks. The network comparison test revealed that the strength and bridge centralities did not differ significantly between the two networks (C = 0.096153; p = 0.22297). However, the network structure and connectedness differed significantly from baseline to follow-up (M = 0.16405, p = <0.0001; S = 0.74536, p = 0.02), with several associations between psychosis and depressive items differing significantly by 12 months. Depressive symptoms, in addition to symptoms of thought disturbance (e.g. conceptual disorganisation and stereotyped thinking), may be examples of important, under-recognized treatment targets in early psychosis, which may have the potential to lead to global symptom improvements and better recovery.
Funder: Department of Health (DH); doi: https://doi.org/10.13039/501100000276
DH | National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (RP-PG-0109-10074)