Exploring the relationship between impaired illness awareness and visuospatial inattention in patients with schizophrenia
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Anosognosia, described as impairment in an individual's ability to perceive and understand their illness, and visuospatial inattention commonly co-occur as a result of structural brain lesions in the right posterior parietal area. Anosognosia or impaired illness awareness is a common feature of schizophrenia that contributes to medication nonadherence and poor clinical outcomes. A recent pilot study suggests patients with impaired illness awareness have a rightward visuospatial bias. We aimed to examine this relationship in a large sample of patients. This study consisted of 106 patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorder (henceforth, schizophrenia) and 20 healthy controls. Visuospatial attention was assessed using the line bisection test (LBT). Illness awareness was assessed using the VAGUS self-report version. A Welch's t-test was used to examine differences in LBT scores between patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls. Correlation analyses between LBT and VAGUS scores were performed in patients with schizophrenia. For exploratory purposes, intra-subject reliability of the LBT was also examined using a two-way mixed intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC). There were no differences in LBT scores between patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls. In patients, there were no associations between LBT and VAGUS scores. ICCs between two consecutively acquired LBTs were 0.92 (95% CI: 0.81-0.96) in patients with schizophrenia and 0.93 (95% CI: 0.81-0.97) in healthy controls. Our results, using a reliable measure, did not support our previous preliminary finding that suggested a relationship between impaired illness awareness and visuospatial bias in patients with schizophrenia. Future studies should consider more sensitive visuospatial attention tasks when testing this hypothesis.
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