- (1) Centre for Clinical Intervention and Neuropsychiatric Schizophrenia Research, CINS, DK-2600 Glostrup, Denmark
- (2) Mental Health Centre Copenhagen, Copenhagen University Hospital, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark
- (3) Rigshospitalet, grid.475435.4, Capital Region
- (4) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
- (5) Functional Imaging Unit, Department of Diagnostics, Copenhagen University Hospital, DK-2600 Glostrup, Denmark
- (6) The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, grid.267309.9
OBJECTIVE: Patients at ultra-high risk (UHR) for psychosis show significant impairments in functioning. It is essential to determine which factors influence functioning, as it may have implications for intervention strategies. This study examined whether social cognitive abilities and clinical symptoms are associated with functioning and social skills. METHODS: The study included 65 UHR patients and 30 healthy controls. Social cognitive function, social skills, and a broad range of functioning measures were assessed. RESULTS: The UHR patients demonstrated significant decrements on The Awareness of Social Inferences Task total score (p = .046, d = .51), and on the CANTAB emotion recognition task total percent correct (p = .023, d = .54) displaying particular difficulties in negative affect recognition. The patients exhibited significant impairments in social skills measured with the High Risk Social Challenge (p˂.001, d = 1.05). Aspects of emotion recognition were associated with role functioning and social skill performance. The level of attributional bias was associated with overall functioning, and theory of mind ability was associated with self-reported functioning. Negative symptoms were associated with all measures of functioning (p ≤ .05). CONCLUSION: Significant impairments in social cognition and social skills were found in UHR patients. The patients' social cognitive function was associated with overall functioning and social skills. Negative symptoms appear to play an important role for functioning. Research is needed to investigate how the relations between social cognition, social skills and functioning develop from the UHR state to the stage of manifest illness. Research into how deficits in social cognition and social skills can be ameliorated in UHR patients is warranted.