Gender differences in symptoms, functioning and social support in patients at ultra-high risk for developing a psychotic disorder

Rachael K. Willhite, Tara A Niendam, Carrie E. Bearden, Jamie Zinberg, Mary P. O'Brien, Tyrone D. Cannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Scopus citations


Gender differences have been widely observed in the clinical presentation, psychosocial functioning and course of illness in first-episode and chronic patients suffering from schizophrenia. However, little is known about gender differences in the psychosis prodrome. This study investigated gender differences in symptoms, functioning and social support in individuals at ultra-high-risk for developing a psychotic disorder. Sixty-eight ultra-high-risk patients were assessed at baseline, and twenty-seven returned for follow-up assessments approximately 6 and 12 months later. Clinical symptoms and functioning were assessed by clinical interview; social support was measured using a self-report questionnaire. There were no gender differences in demographic variables, symptoms or functioning at baseline. Males were found to have significantly higher levels of negative symptoms and marginally lower levels of functioning when baseline and follow-up time points were considered collectively. Additionally, females reported higher levels of social support at baseline. Differences in negative symptoms were found to mediate differences in functioning between male and female patients. This study suggests that gender based differences in symptom presentation and functional outcome may predate conversion to psychosis. Follow-up studies should examine the relationship between symptoms, functioning and social support in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-245
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Sep 2008



  • Functional outcome
  • Gender
  • Negative symptoms
  • Prodrome
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)

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