Changes in social functioning over the course of psychotic disorders: A meta-analysis

Lars De Winter*, Chrisje Couwenbergh, Jaap Van Weeghel, Ilanit Hasson-ohayon, Jentien M. Vermeulen, Cornelis L. Mulder, Nynke Boonstra, Kete M. Klaver, Matthijs Oud, Lieuwe De Haan, Wim Veling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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In this meta-analysis we investigated changes in social functioning and its moderators in patients with a psychotic disorder but different durations of illness at baseline.

We included longitudinal studies assessing the course of five domains of social functioning in patients with a psychotic disorder. Effect sizes of change between baseline and follow-up within these domains were analyzed in four subgroups based on durations of psychotic disorder at baseline: less than 2 years, between 2 and 5 years, between 5 and 10 years, and more than 10 years. The influence of baseline confounders was analyzed using meta-regression and sensitivity analysis.

We included 84 studies analyzing 33,456 participants. We found a medium improvement (d = 0.60) in overall social functioning over time, with a greater improvement for studies investigating patients with a duration of illness of less than 5 years. We found minor improvement in specific domains of social functioning, such as vocational functioning (d = 0.31), prosocial behavior (d = 0.36), activities (d = 0.15), and independence (d = 0.25). Improvement in social functioning was associated with lower baseline levels of negative symptoms, higher baseline levels of quality of life, and, specifically, improved vocational functioning, with rehabilitation and combined treatment.

Social functioning in patients with psychotic disorders improves over time, especially for patients with shorter illness durations. Reduction of negative symptoms and improving quality of life might reinforce improvement of social functioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-82
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Longitudinal
  • Course
  • social functioning


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