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Tschentscher, Nadja; Woll, Christian F. J.; Tafelmaier, Julia C.; Kriesche, Dominik; Bucher, Julia C.; Engel, Rolf R. and Karch, Susanne ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1542-1110 (2023): Neurocognitive Deficits in First-Episode and Chronic Psychotic Disorders: A Systematic Review from 2009 to 2022. In: Brain Sciences, Vol. 13, No. 2, 299 [PDF, 748kB]


Cognitive impairment in patients suffering from schizophrenia spectrum disorders has been discussed as a strong predictor for multiple disease outcome variables, such as response to psychotherapy, stable relationships, employment, and longevity. However, the consistency and severity of cognitive deficits across multiple domains in individuals with first-episode and chronic psychotic disorders is still undetermined. We provide a comprehensive overview of primary research from the years 2009 to 2022. Based on a Cochrane risk assessment, a systematic synthesis of 51 out of 3669 original studies was performed. Impairment of cognitive functioning in patients diagnosed with first-episode psychotic disorders compared with healthy controls was predicted to occur in all assessed cognitive domains. Few overall changes were predicted for chronically affected patients relative to those in the first-episode stage, in line with previous longitudinal studies. Our research outcomes support the hypothesis of a global decrease in cognitive functioning in patients diagnosed with psychotic disorders, i.e., the occurrence of cognitive deficits in multiple cognitive domains including executive functioning, memory, working memory, psychomotor speed, and attention. Only mild increases in the frequency of cognitive impairment across studies were observed at the chronically affected stage relative to the first-episode stage. Our results confirm and extend the outcomes from prior reviews and meta-analyses. Recommendations for psychotherapeutic interventions are provided, considering the broad cognitive impairment already observed at the stage of the first episode. Based on the risk of bias assessment, we also make specific suggestions concerning the quality of future original studies.

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