A factor model of the functional psychoses and the relationship of factors to clinical variables and brain morphology

A M McIntosh, A Forrester, S M Lawrie, M Byrne, A Harper, J N Kestelman, J J Best, E C Johnstone, D G Owens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Despite more than 100 years of study, there remains no definitive diagnostic validation of the functional psychoses. Factor analysis suggests the presence of three or more psychopathological syndromes in functional psychoses as a whole. The relationship between these factors and cerebral anatomy has been investigated in schizophrenia only. This study aimed to address the relationship of symptom factors to clinically important variables and cerebral anatomy in a sample of psychotic patients with a spread of diagnoses.

METHODS: In a sample of patients with functional psychoses, symptom data was obtained on four consecutive admissions using the OPCRIT symptom checklist. OPCRIT data was used to generate operational diagnoses in accordance with pre-set criteria and a principle components analysis was performed on symptom data. Factor loadings were compared between each admission to examine factor stability over time. Factor scores at first admission were also correlated with clinical variables obtained from patients' case notes. From the sample of 204 patients, 64 subjects were recruited and underwent an MRI scan of the brain. Regional anatomical volumes were compared with diagnosis and factor loadings at first admission.

RESULTS: A principal components analysis gave a four-factor solution of 'manic', 'depressive', 'disorganization' and 'reality distortion' factors at each admission. Factors showed a high degree of stability over the four admissions studied. The factors were significantly associated with several clinical variables. Three of the four factors were associated with a specific pattern of cerebral anatomy.

CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that factors may correspond to relatively specific disease processes underlying functional psychotic illness. We propose that the use of symptom factors may facilitate the investigation of the underlying mechanisms of psychotic illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-71
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001


  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain
  • Delusions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychotic Disorders
  • Regression Analysis
  • Severity of Illness Index


Dive into the research topics of 'A factor model of the functional psychoses and the relationship of factors to clinical variables and brain morphology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this