A cross-sectional examination of the clinical significance of autistic traits in individuals experiencing a first episode of psychosis

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Autism traits are found at elevated rates in individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, however, there is a lack of evidence regarding potential clinical impact. The current research aimed to examine potential associations between autism traits and symptoms of psychosis, social and role functioning, and quality of life. 99 individuals experiencing a first episode of psychosis took part in a cross-sectional interview and self-report questionnaire which assessed current symptoms of psychosis, autism traits, functioning, and quality of life. Participants were found to have a high level of autism traits. Higher autism traits were associated with poorer quality of life, functioning, and current psychotic symptoms. Receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analyses indicated that optimal AQ cut-off scores to predict severity of psychosis symptoms, functioning, and quality of life were lower than those used to suggest likely autism-spectrum diagnosis. Results suggest that autism traits are associated with poorer clinical presentation in first-episode psychosis populations, even in those whose traits fall below potentially diagnostic thresholds for autism. Psychosis services should be prepared to adequately address the needs of individuals with higher autism traits.


Original languageEnglish
Article number112623
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research
Early online date18 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Autism traits, functioning, quality of life, Schizophrenia spectrum disorders