Category: Parenting / Families

Symposium

Distress Versus Perceived Criticism to Gauge Outcomes in Individuals at High Risk for Psychosis

Sunday, November 19
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Cobalt 502, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Schizophrenia | Risk / Vulnerability Factors | Families
Presentation Type: Symposium

Perceived Criticism (PC) measures how critical individuals feel a relative is of them, and has strong associations with a variety of psychiatric outcomes. However, little research has examined the relationship between PC and specific psychiatric symptomatology in individuals at high risk for psychosis (HRP). Further, no research has examined how perceived distress from criticism relates to psychiatric outcomes in individuals at HRP. Measuring distress from criticism adds an important perspective of analysis, as it attempts to capture how much an individual is affected by criticism. This study collected data on PC and distress, psychiatric symptoms, and loneliness from 38 individuals at HRP (based on genetic and clinical risk factors). Additionally, participants engaged in an experimental paradigm that examined their physiological and affective response to standardized critical comments. Participants listened to critical comments and were asked to imagine an older female relative (their mother, most commonly) was saying these comments to them. To analyze the data, multiple regression was used with perceptions of criticism and distress from criticism as independent variables.  Results indicated that distress (controlling for PC) positively related to baseline prodromal psychotic symptoms, depression and anxiety symptoms, and loneliness. However, PC did not relate to any baseline outcomes when controlling for distress. Further, distress (again controlling for PC) was associated with increased negative affect, anxiety and heart rate following the critical comments, while PC was not associated with any of these outcomes. These results indicate that distress from criticism may be a better indicator of prodromal psychiatric, physiological and social outcomes in individuals at HRP than PC. From a treatment perspective, these results have important implications. They suggest that, in addition to reducing the felt-distress from criticism, emotion regulation tools may be helpful for individuals at high-risk for psychosis, as they can learn to better cope with distress from family conflict.  

Marc J. Weintraub

Graduate Student
University of Miami

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