Transdiagnostic dimensions of psychosis in the Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes (B-SNIP)

Ulrich Reininghaus*, Jan R. Bohnke, UnYoung Chavez-Baldini, Robert Gibbons, Elena Ivleva, Brett A. Clementz, Godfrey D. Pearlson, Matcheri S. Keshavan, John A. Sweeney, Carol A. Tamminga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The validity of the classification of non-affective and affective psychoses as distinct entities has been disputed, but, despite calls for alternative approaches to defining psychosis syndromes, there is a dearth of empirical efforts to identify transdiagnostic phenotypes of psychosis. We aimed to investigate the validity and utility of general and specific symptom dimensions of psychosis cutting across schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar I disorder with psychosis. Multidimensional item-response modeling was conducted on symptom ratings of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, Young Mania Rating Scale, and Montgomery-angstrom sberg Depression Rating Scale in the multicentre Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes (B-SNIP) consortium, which included 933 patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia (N=397), schizoaffective disorder (N=224), or bipolar I disorder with psychosis (N=312). A bifactor model with one general symptom dimension, two distinct dimensions of non-affective and affective psychosis, and five specific symptom dimensions of positive, negative, disorganized, manic and depressive symptoms provided the best model fit. There was further evidence on the utility of symptom dimensions for predicting B-SNIP psychosis biotypes with greater accuracy than categorical DSM diagnoses. General, positive, negative and disorganized symptom dimension scores were higher in African American vs. Caucasian patients. Symptom dimensions accurately classified patients into categorical DSM diagnoses. This study provides evidence on the validity and utility of transdiagnostic symptom dimensions of psychosis that transcend traditional diagnostic boundaries of psychotic disorders. Findings further show promising avenues for research at the interface of dimensional psychopathological phenotypes and basic neurobiological dimensions of psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
JournalWorld Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Psychosis
  • transdiagnostic phenotypes
  • schizophrenia
  • schizoaffective disorder
  • bipolar disorder with psychosis
  • general symptom dimensions
  • specific symptom dimensions
  • biotypes


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