The Latent Structure of Negative Symptoms in the General Population in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood.
Havers L., Cardno A., Freeman D., Ronald A.
Negative symptoms predict adverse outcomes within psychotic disorders, in individuals at high-risk for psychosis, and in young people in the community. There is considerable interest in the dimensional structure of negative symptoms in clinical samples, and accumulating evidence suggests a 5-factor structure. Little is known about the underlying structure of negative symptoms in young people despite the importance of this developmental stage for mental health. We used confirmatory factor analysis to test the structure of parent-reported negative symptoms at mean ages 16.32 (SD 0.68, N = 4974), 17.06 (SD 0.88, N = 1469) and 22.30 (SD 0.93, N = 5179) in a community sample. Given previously reported associations between total negative symptoms and genome-wide polygenic scores (GPS) for major depressive disorder (MDD) and schizophrenia in adolescence, we assessed associations between individual subdomains and these GPSs. A 5-factor model of flat affect, alogia, avolition, anhedonia, and asociality provided the best fit at each age and was invariant over time. The results of our linear regression analyses showed associations between MDD GPS with avolition, flat affect, anhedonia, and asociality, and between schizophrenia GPS with avolition and flat affect. We showed that a 5-factor structure of negative symptoms is present from ages 16 to 22 in the community. Avolition was most consistently associated with polygenic liability to MDD and schizophrenia, and alogia was least associated. These findings highlight the value of dissecting negative symptoms into psychometrically derived subdomains and may offer insights into early manifestation of genetic risk for MDD and schizophrenia.