Autistic traits in first-episode psychosis: Rates and association with 1-year recovery outcomes

Shushan Zheng, Yi Chian Chua, Charmaine Tang, Giles Ming Yee Tan, Edimansyah Abdin, Vicki Wei Qi Lim, Astelle Shiyun Koh, Swapna Verma, Iliana Magiati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: There is a growing appreciation that subthreshold but clinically elevated levels of autistic traits are clinically relevant. This study examined autistic traits in Singaporean patients with first-episode psychosis and their association with 1-year psychosis recovery. Methods: The relationship between baseline patient characteristics, autistic traits (measured with autism screening questionnaires) and psychosis recovery outcomes at 1-year were examined in 180 adults in the Early Intervention Psychosis Programme in Singapore. Results: Out of 180 participants, 50 (27.8%) had clinically elevated above screening-cut off levels of autistic traits on the self-reported 10-item Autism Spectrum Quotient and 8 (4.4%) on the staff-rated Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults Screening Questionnaire. At baseline, those with more autistic traits were more likely to be unemployed, economically inactive (ie, students or homemakers); and to have diagnoses of mood disorder with psychotic features, brief psychotic disorder or psychotic disorder not otherwise specified as compared to schizophrenia spectrum and delusional disorder diagnoses. Although most participants showed improvements in their clinical outcomes at 1-year, those with higher autistic traits improved less in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale general psychopathology scale and in Global Assessment of Functioning symptomatology. Conclusions: Autistic traits are common in those with first-episode psychosis and may be associated with poorer clinical outcomes. Validated screening tools should be developed in this population to support earlier reporting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-855
Number of pages7
Journal Early Intervention in Psychiatry
Issue number4
Early online date24 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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