A review of negative symptom assessment strategies in youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis

Gregory P. Strauss*, Andrea Pelletier-Baldelli, Katherine Frost Visser, Elaine F. Walker, Vijay A. Mittal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Studies attempting to deconstruct the heterogeneity of schizophrenia and the attenuated psychosis syndrome consistently find that negative symptoms are a core dimension that is distinct from other aspects of the illness (e.g., positive and disorganized symptoms). Negative symptoms are also highly predictive of poor community-based functional outcomes, suggesting they are a critical treatment target. Unfortunately, pharmacological and psychosocial treatments for negative symptoms have demonstrated limited effectiveness. To address this critical unmet therapeutic need, the NIMH sponsored a consensus development conference to delineate research priorities for the field and stimulate treatment development. A primary conclusion of this meeting was that next-generation negative symptom rating scales should be developed to address methodological and conceptual limitations of existing instruments. Although second-generation rating scales were developed for adults with schizophrenia, progress in this area has lagged behind for youth at clinical-high risk (CHR) for developing psychosis (i.e. those meeting criteria for a prodromal syndrome). Given that negative symptoms are highly predictive of the transition to diagnosable psychotic illness, enhancing our ability to detect negative symptoms in CHR youth is paramount. The current paper discusses conceptual and methodological limitations inherent to existing scales that assess negative symptoms in CHR youth. The theoretical and clinical implications of these limitations are evaluated. It is concluded that new scales specifically designed to assess negative symptoms in CHR youth are needed to accurately chart mental illness trajectories and determine when, where, and how to intervene. Recent efforts to develop next-generation measures designed specifically for CHR youth to meet this urgent need in the field are discussed. These new approaches offer significant progress for addressing issues inherent to earlier scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-112
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Alogia
  • Anhedonia
  • Asociality
  • Avolition
  • Blunted affect
  • Prodrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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