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Psychopathological and Functional Correlates of Behavioral Activation and Avoidance in Schizophrenia

Depp, Colin A. PhD*; Cardenas, Veronica PhD*; Harris, Sara BA; Vahia, Ipsit V. MD*; Patterson, Thomas L. PhD*; Mausbach, Brent T. PhD*

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: November 2011 - Volume 199 - Issue 11 - p 861-865
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182349cb7
Original Articles

Behavioral activation and avoidance are well studied in depression, yet the relationship of these constructs to symptoms, cognitive ability and functioning in schizophrenia is poorly understood. In a sample of 73 middle-aged and older outpatients with schizophrenia (mean [SD] age, 50.3 [6.3] years), we examined the relationship of the Activation and Avoidance subscales of the Behavioral Activation for Depression Scale with measures of psychopathology (positive and negative symptoms, depression), global cognitive ability, and functioning (observer-rated, performance-based, and subjective functioning). Neither activation nor avoidance related to sociodemographic variables, age of onset, or antipsychotic dose. Although activation and avoidance were significantly intercorrelated, only behavioral activation was significantly associated with depression and subjective functioning, whereas only avoidance related to negative symptoms. Avoidance accounted for significant variation in observer-rated functioning after adjusting for cognitive ability. These results suggest that activation and avoidance may be important therapeutic targets in schizophrenia, with somewhat divergent pathways among psychopathological features to functional impairment.

*Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA; and †John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI.

Send reprint requests to Colin A. Depp, PhD, Department of Psychiatry (0664), University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0664. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.