Objective Neurocognitive impairment has been extensively studied in people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and seems to be one of the major determinants of functional outcome in this clinical population. Data exploring the link between neuropsychological deficits and the risk of violence in schizophrenia has been more inconsistent. In this study, we analyse the differential predictive potential of neurocognition and social cognition to discriminate patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders with and without a history of severe violence. Methods Overall, 398 (221 cases and 177 controls) patients were recruited in forensic and general psychiatric settings across five European countries and assessed using a standardized battery. Results Education and processing speed were the strongest discriminators between forensic and non-forensic patients, followed by emotion recognition. In particular, increased accuracy for anger recognition was the most distinctive feature of the forensic group. Conclusions These results may have important clinical implications, suggesting potential enhancements of the assessment and treatment of patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders with a history of violence, who may benefit from consideration of socio-cognitive skills commonly neglected in ordinary clinical practice.
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