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Clinical and neuropsychological aspects of non-fatal self-harm in schizophrenia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 April 2020

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To investigate demographic, clinical and neuropsychological aspects of self-harm in schizophrenia and identify which are independently predictive of and therefore the most relevant to clinical intervention.

Subjects and methods:

Eighty-seven patients with schizophrenia were interviewed regarding substance misuse, depression, hopelessness, negative/positive symptoms and illness insight. Neuropsychological assessment included premorbid IQ, continuous performance test, cognitive-motor and trait impulsivity. A prospective three-month review of medical records was also undertaken.


Fifty-nine patients (68%) reported past self-harm (including attempted suicide). Those with past self-harm, compared to those without, were significantly more likely to report depression, hopelessness, impulsivity, a family history of self-harm, polysubstance abuse and had higher premorbid IQ. Logistic regression revealed that depression, higher premorbid IQ and polysubstance abuse were independently linked to self-harm. Five participants attempted self-harm during the 3-month prospective follow-up period. These all had a history of past self-harm and were significantly more likely to have been depressed at the initial interview than those who did not go on to self-harm.

Discussion and conclusions:

Independent predictors of self-harm in schizophrenia are premorbid IQ and polysubstance abuse. In addition, depression was both independently associated with past self-harm and predictive of self-harm in the follow-up period.

Original article
Copyright © European Psychiatric Association

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