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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Relationship between attention and social functioning in individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder Ott, Fred Julius


There is growing evidence suggesting a relationship between cognition and social functioning in individuals with schizophrenia. Researchers have theorized that cognitive deficits may impair the ability of an individual with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder to recognize interpersonal cues and to process other information necessary for effective social functioning. Impairments of social functioning can affect any of the individual's occupational performance areas: self-care, productivity, or leisure. Individuals with schizophrenia experience significant information-processing deficits in a wide range of cognitive processes including attention, memory, reasoning ability and language. Yet, there is relatively little consensus as to which cognitive processes may be related to social functioning. The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between attention and social functioning in a sample of 35 individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. This study employed a cross-sectional design. Attention was defined as the rate of information processing and was evaluated by the Paced Auditory Serial-Addition Task (PASAT). The PAS AT measured the rate of information processing by determining the time required per correct response. Social functioning was evaluated with the Social Dysfunction Index (SDI). The SDI is a 27-item semi-structured interview, developed and validated on individuals with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. The SDI provided an overall social dysfunction score, a satisfaction score, and a score for each of the nine components of dysfunction assessed. A Pearson correlation analysis found a small but statistically insignificant relationship between the SDI overall percent scores and the PASAT mean time/response scores (r = 0.086, p = 0.624). A Welch's approximate t-test determined that the PASAT mean time/response scores of the present study's subjects were significantly lower than those of Gronwall's normal control subjects (t (34) = 3.59, p < 0.05). Therefore, the PASAT may be an effective tool for assessing attention impairments in individuals with schizophrenia. The findings of this study have indicated that the manner in which attention and social functioning are defined and measured needs to be considered when examining these complex concepts. The study supports the need for further investigation in this area. Relationships between specific cognitive deficits and impairments in activities of daily living must be made before remediation of cognitive deficits is attempted.

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