What is the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale?

Introduction

The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) is a medical scale used for measuring symptom severity of patients with schizophrenia.

It was published in 1987 by Stanley Kay, Lewis Opler, and Abraham Fiszbein. It is widely used in the study of antipsychotic therapy. The scale is known as the “gold standard” that all assessments of psychotic behavioural disorders should follow.

The name refers to the two types of symptoms in schizophrenia, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association:

  • Positive symptoms, which refer to an excess or distortion of normal functions (e.g. hallucinations and delusions); and
  • Negative symptoms, which represent a diminution or loss of normal functions.

Some of these functions which may be lost include normal thoughts, actions, ability to tell fantasies from reality, and the ability to properly express emotions.

The PANSS is a relatively brief interview, requiring 45 to 50 minutes to administer. The interviewer must be trained to a standardised level of reliability.

Interview Items

To assess a patient using PANSS, an approximately 45-minute clinical interview is conducted. The patient is rated from 1 to 7 on 30 different symptoms based on the interview as well as reports of family members or primary care hospital workers.

  • Positive scale:
    • 7 Items, (minimum score = 7, maximum score = 49):
      • Delusions.
      • Conceptual disorganisation.
      • Hallucinations.
      • Excitement.
      • Grandiosity.
      • Suspiciousness/persecution.
      • Hostility.
  • Negative scale:
    • 7 Items, (minimum score = 7, maximum score = 49):
      • Blunted affect.
      • Emotional withdrawal.
      • Poor rapport.
      • Passive/apathetic social withdrawal.
      • Difficulty in abstract thinking.
      • Lack of spontaneity and flow of conversation.
      • Stereotyped thinking.
  • General Psychopathology scale:
    • 16 Items, (minimum score = 16, maximum score = 112):
      • Somatic concern.
      • Anxiety.
      • Guilt feelings.
      • Tension.
      • Mannerisms and posturing.
      • Depression.
      • Motor retardation.
      • Uncooperativeness.
      • Unusual thought content.
      • Disorientation.
      • Poor attention.
      • Lack of judgement and insight.
      • Disturbance of volition.
      • Poor impulse control.
      • Preoccupation.
      • Active social avoidance.

PANSS Total score minimum = 30, maximum = 210

Scoring

As 1 rather than 0 is given as the lowest score for each item, a patient can not score lower than 30 for the total PANSS score. Scores are often given separately for the positive items, negative items, and general psychopathology. In their original publication on the PANSS scale, Stanley Kay and colleagues tested the scale on 101 adult patients (20-68 years-old) with schizophrenia and the mean scores were,

  • Positive scale = 18.20.
  • Negative scale = 21.01.
  • General psychopathology = 37.74.

Based on meta-analytic results, an alternative five-factor solution of the PANSS was proposed with positive symptoms, negative symptoms, disorganisation, excitement, and emotional distress.

This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_and_Negative_Syndrome_Scale&gt;; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.

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