Method: Forty-three FEP subjects (51% male, 28 +/- 9 years) were followed-up neurocognitively over five assessments spanning 10 years. The test battery was divided into four neurocognitive indices; Executive Function, Verbal Learning, Motor Speed, and Verbal Fluency. The sample was grouped into those relapsing or not within the first, second and fifth year.
Results: The four neurocognitive indices showed overall stability over the 10 year period. Significant relapse by index interactions were found for all indices except Executive Function. Follow-up analyses identified a larger significant decrease over time for the encoding measure within Verbal Memory for patients with psychotic relapse in the first year[F-(4,F- (38)) = 5.8, p = 0.001, eta(2) = 0.40].
Conclusions: Main findings are long-term stability in neurocognitive functioning in FEP patients, with the exception of verbal memory in patients with psychotic relapse or non-remission early in the course of illness. We conclude that worsening of specific parts of cognitive function may be expected for patients with on-going psychosis, but that the majority of patients do not show significant change in cognitive performance during the first 10 years after being diagnosed.