Background and Hypothesis

Although studies have identified social fragmentation as an important risk factor for schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, it is unknown whether it may impact social functioning. This study investigates whether social fragmentation during childhood predicts maladaptation to school as well as social functioning during childhood and adulthood.

Study Design

Data were collected from the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study. Participants included adults at clinical high risk for psychosis (CHR-P) and healthy comparisons (HC). Maladaptation to school and social functioning during childhood were assessed retrospectively and social functioning in adulthood was assessed at baseline.

Study Results

Greater social fragmentation during childhood was associated with greater maladaptation to school (adjusted β = 0.21; 95% CI: 0.02 to 0.40). Social fragmentation was not associated with social functioning during childhood (unadjusted β = −0.08; 95% CI: −0.31 to 0.15). However, greater social fragmentation during childhood predicted poorer social functioning in adulthood (adjusted β = −0.43; 95% CI: −0.79 to −0.07). Maladaptation to school mediated 15.7% of the association between social fragmentation and social functioning. The association between social fragmentation and social functioning was stronger among adults at CHR-P compared to HC (adjusted β = −0.42; 95% CI: −0.82 to −0.02).

Conclusions

This study finds that social fragmentation during childhood is associated with greater maladaptation to school during childhood, which in turn predicts poorer social functioning in adulthood. Further research is needed to disentangle aspects of social fragmentation that may contribute to social deficits, which would have implications for the development of effective interventions at the individual and community levels.

This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/pages/standard-publication-reuse-rights)