BACKGROUND: Studies about cognitive functioning of patients with schizophrenia (language problems in particular) are very limited in Iran. This study aims at evaluating the affective reactivity of speech in Turkish-speaking schizophrenic patients and their non-schizophrenic relatives.
METHODS: In a cross-sectional setting, 30 outpatients with schizophrenia were compared with 30 first-degree non-schizophrenic family members and 30 non-clinical controls. The audio-taped speech samples (10 min each) were analyzed blindly for frequencies of referential communication failure. Levels of referential communication disturbance in speech samples (Communication Disturbance Index, CDI) during two separate sessions were compared in affectively positive versus affectively negative conditions.
RESULTS: All three groups showed significantly higher frequencies of communication disturbances in the affectively negative condition. The affective reactivity of speech was significant in patients with schizophrenia compared with the controls but not the unaffected relatives. The severity of positive or negative symptoms was not correlated with CDI or level of affective reactivity.
CONCLUSION: This study was carried out in a Turkish-speaking sample and supports the idea that referential communication disturbances may be linked to vulnerability to schizophrenia while affective reactivity is associated with manifest illness. Language differences may affect the observed impact of symptom severity on communication failures.