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Cognitive Impairments in Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder: Relationship With Clinical Characteristics

Torniainen, Minna MPsych*†; Suvisaari, Jaana MD, PhD*‡; Partonen, Timo MD, PhD*; Castaneda, Anu E. PhD; Kuha, Annamaria Lic Psych; Suokas, Jaana MD, PhD*; Perälä, Jonna MD, PhD*; Saarni, Samuli I. MD, PhD*∥; Lönnqvist, Jouko MD, PhD*∥; Tuulio-Henriksson, Annamari PhD*§¶

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: April 2012 - Volume 200 - Issue 4 - p 316–322
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31824cb359
Original Articles

The present study aimed to compare population-based familial samples of patients with schizophrenia (n = 218) and schizoaffective disorder (n = 62) and a healthy control group (n = 123). Patients with schizoaffective disorder outperformed patients with schizophrenia in verbal ability, processing speed, visual working memory, and verbal memory. When compared with controls, patients with schizoaffective disorder also had a generalized cognitive impairment. Adjusting for clinical characteristics removed significant differences between the patient groups. Irrespective of the diagnosis, patients with the most severe negative symptoms and highest dose of antipsychotics had the most severe cognitive impairments, whereas mood symptoms were not related to cognitive performance. In conclusion, people with schizoaffective disorder have severe cognitive impairments, but the impairments are milder than in schizophrenia. Mood symptoms may not explain the difference between the diagnostic groups in cognitive functions, but the difference may be related to differences in the severity of negative symptoms.

*Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland; †Department of Psychiatry, Peijas Hospital, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Vantaa, Finland; ‡Department of Social Psychiatry, Tampere School of Public Health, University of Tampere, Finland; §Institute of Behavioral Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; ∥Department of Psychiatry, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; and ¶Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Helsinki, Finland.

Send reprint requests to Minna Torniainen, MPsych, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, National Institute for Health and Welfare, PO Box 30, 00271 Helsinki, Finland. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.