Predictors of schizophrenia spectrum disorders in early-onset first episodes of psychosis: A support vector machine model.


Identifying early-onset schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) at a very early stage remains challenging. To assess the diagnostic predictive value of multiple types of data at the emergence of early-onset first-episode psychosis (FEP), various support vector machine (SVM) classifiers were developed. The data were from a 2-year, prospective, longitudinal study of 81 patients (age 9-17 years) with early-onset FEP and a stable diagnosis during follow-up and 42 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (HC). The input was different combinations of baseline clinical, neuropsychological, magnetic resonance imaging brain volumetric and biochemical data, and the output was the diagnosis at follow-up (SSD vs. non-SSD, SSD vs. HC, and non-SSD vs. HC). Enhanced recursive feature elimination was performed for the SSD vs. non-SSD classifier to select and rank the input variables with the highest predictive value for a diagnostic outcome of SSD. After validation with a test set and considering all baseline variables together, the SSD vs. non-SSD, SSD vs. HC and non-SSD vs. HC classifiers achieved an accuracy of 0.81, 0.99 and 0.99, respectively. Regarding the SSD vs. non-SSD classifier, a combination of baseline clinical variables (severity of negative, disorganized symptoms and hallucinations or poor insight) and neuropsychological variables (impaired attention, motor coordination, and global cognition) showed the highest predictive value for a diagnostic outcome of SSD. Neuroimaging and biochemical variables at baseline did not add to the predictive value. Thus, comprehensive clinical/cognitive assessment remains the most reliable approach for differential diagnosis during early-onset FEP. SVMs may constitute promising multivariate tools in the search for predictors of diagnostic outcome in FEP.