Associations of symptoms, neurocognition, and metacognition with insight in schizophrenia spectrum disorders

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Many persons with schizophrenia experience poor insight and, as a result, are at risk for treatment non-adherence and numerous negative outcomes. However, to date, the etiology of poor insight has not yet been fully elucidated. One recent theory concerning the roots of poor insight in schizophrenia has proposed that it may result, in part, from impairments in metacognition, or the capacity to think about thinking. The present study thus aims to examine whether metacognition is associated with insight even after controlling for the effects of psychiatric symptomatology and neurocognition. In this study, 95 adults with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder were assessed on measures of insight (i.e., awareness of symptoms, treatment needs, and illness consequences), psychiatric symptoms (i.e., positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and general psychopathology), neurocognitive functions (i.e., executive function, memory, and attention), and metacognitive capacities (i.e., self-reflectivity and theory of mind). Univariate correlations followed by stepwise multiple regressions, which controlled for symptoms and neurocognition, indicated that both self-reflectivity and theory of mind were significantly linked with awareness of symptoms; theory of mind was linked with awareness of treatment needs; and self-reflectivity was linked with awareness of illness consequences. Importantly, these findings suggest that metacognitive capacities may be related to insight independent of concurrent psychiatric symptoms and neurocognitive deficits. Moreover, awareness of different facets of the illness may require contributions from different components of metacognition. Future research should investigate how existing metacognitive skill training programs could potentially be tailored, or modified, to help persons with schizophrenia to develop and enhance insight. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-69
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Early online dateOct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Theory of Mind
Executive Function


Chan, K. K. S. (2016). Associations of symptoms, neurocognition, and metacognition with insight in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 65, 63-69.