Impact of traumatic and violent victimization experiences in individuals with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder

Jennifer M. Newman, Ayme Turnbull, Brady A. Berman, Stephanie Rodrigues, Mark R. Serper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (SZ) experience more violent victimization and noninterpersonal traumatic experiences than the general population. Earlier studies, however, have generally excluded one or grouped together victimization and trauma experiences into single outcome variables, which may obscure their contributory role to SZ symptoms. This issue is important because there is some evidence that intentionally induced violence produces higher rates of psychopathology than nonintentional traumatic experiences. We examined the independent contribution of both types of victimization experiences on SZ patients' symptomatology. We were also interested in determining whether SZ patients' pattern of acute symptom presentation could discriminate between SZ patients with and without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) comorbidity. SZ inpatients (n = 70) were assessed for the presence of comorbid PTSD diagnosis, violent victimization, and noninterpersonal traumatic experiences. Patients were also rated on SZ symptom severity and general psychopathology measures. Past violent victimization experiences predicted severity of dysphoria and anxiety in SZ. Past traumatic experiences, however, predicted severity of psychosis. Victimization predicted severity of patients' autistic/cognitive symptoms. SZ patients with comorbid PTSD presented with significantly more anxiety and dysphoria symptoms and SZ illness chronicity than their non-PTSD counterparts. Discriminant function analysis revealed that the severity of positive, dysphoric, autistic/cognitive, and anxiety symptoms differentiated comorbid PTSD patients from their non-PTSD counterparts, with an overall 72.9% classification rate. Past traumatic and victimization experiences are significantly associated with SZ patients' symptom severity and illness course in partially overlapping domains. Use of common assessment strategies may be employed to increase detection of PTSD in SZ patients presenting for acute treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-714
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • PTSD
  • Psychosis
  • schizophrenia
  • trauma
  • violent victimization


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