Social Adjustment of Israeli Adolescents At-Risk for Schizophrenia

Researchers from the Jerusalem Infant Development Study (Hans, Auerbach, Asarnow, Styr, and Marcus, 2000) demonstrated the utility of the Youth Self-Report (YSR) for assessing youths at risk for schizophrenia. They used the YSR and the Social Adjustment Inventory for Children and Adolescents (SAICA) (John et al., 1987) to assess 27 adolescent offspring of schizophrenics, 30 offspring of parents with affective or personality disorders, and 29 offspring of parents with no psychiatric diagnoses.

The purpose of the study was to determine whether adolescents at high risk for schizophrenia manifested more social adjustment problems than adolescents at risk for other psychiatric disorders or those without familial disorders. Offspring of schizophrenic parents obtained significantly higher YSR Social Problems scores than adolescents in the other two groups, a finding that remained significant after controlling for present psychiatric disorder.

YSR items that were significantly higher in the schizophrenia risk group included acts young, clings, teased, not liked, and withdrawn. Youths at risk for schizophrenia did not differ from the other adolescents on YSR Activities, Social, Withdrawn, or Aggressive scales. Interestingly, they were not more likely to endorse “I am shy,” but they did endorse “I keep from getting involved with others” more often than did other youths. The schizophrenia risk group also scored significantly worse on the SAICA Peer Engagement scale, which taps heterosexual relationship items such as “doesn’t attend dances/parties,” “doesn’t date,” “doesn’t have boy friend/girl friend, friends of opposite sex.”

The researchers concluded that adolescents at risk for schizophrenia manifest immaturity and awkwardness in their peer relationships and frequently experience peer rejection, particularly with the opposite sex.

Reference: Hans, S.L., Auerbach, J.G., Asarnow, J.R., Styr, B., and Marcus, J. (2000). Social adjustment of Israeli adolescents at-risk for schizophrenia: The Jerusalem Infant Development Study. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 39 (11), 1406-1414.