Stressful life events in recent-onset schizophrenia: Reduced frequencies and altered subjective appraisals

William P. Horan, Joseph Ventura, Keith H. Nuechterlein, Kenneth L. Subotnik, Sun S. Hwang, Jim Mintz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Scopus citations

Abstract

While research strongly supports the notion that stressful life events may trigger the exacerbation of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia, the mechanisms through which affected individuals respond to life events during the early course of this disorder have received limited attention. This 12-month longitudinal study compared the frequencies, qualitative characteristics, and subjective appraisals of life events in recent-onset schizophrenia patients (n=78) and a nonpatient comparison sample (n=63). Negative and positive life events were assessed using a semi-structured interview every 4 weeks among patients and approximately every 4 months among controls, and participants appraised each event they experienced in terms of emotional impact, controllability, and effectiveness in handling the event. Schizophrenia patients reported significantly lower rates of life events than their nonpsychiatric counterparts across nearly every type of negative and positive event examined. In the context of generally lower event frequencies, patients appraised the negative and positive events they did experience as less controllable and more poorly handled than controls, and also appraised positive events as less desirable. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for understanding susceptibility to stress during the early course of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-374
Number of pages12
JournalSchizophrenia research
Volume75
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 15 2005
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Appraisals
  • Recent-onset
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stressful life events
  • Vulnerability-stress model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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