Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Related Sciences

First Advisor

Dianne Simons


Schizophrenia is a devastating disorder affecting millions of people in the United States. Studies leading to new understanding of and intervention for this disorder are essential, as current interventions are minimally effective. The end result is high rates of re-hospitalization, impaired occupational performance and decreased community reintegration. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, symptoms of schizophrenia are categorized as positive or negative, with both types of symptoms impacting successful occupational engagement. Based on behavioral observations occupational therapists have hypothesized that this population may also experience sensory modulation disorder (SMD). Although electrophysiological studies support the presence of SMD, studies focusing on the relationship between the observable behaviors of these two disorders are lacking. The purpose of this project is to examine the relationship between symptoms of SMD and schizophrenia. A cross-sectional design was used for this study. A convenience sample of 40 subjects was recruited from two outpatient psychiatric programs in Chicago, Illinois. Multi-site testing using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (A/ASP) was used to address the following questions: 1) Is there a relationship between symptoms of schizophrenia and patterns of SMD? 2) Can positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia reliably predict patterns of sensory modulation disorder? A Spearman correlation coefficient was used to examine the relationship between symptoms of schizophrenia and patterns of SMD, indicated a significant positive relationship between positive symptoms of schizophrenia and the low registration and sensory sensitivity quadrants of the A/ASP. Furthermore, a Mann Whitney U test uncovered significantly higher sensory sensitivity scores in African Americans compared to Caucasians. No significant relationships were found between negative symptoms and patterns of SMD. Stepwise regression found that positive symptoms predicted higher low registration scores and a combination of positive symptoms, race and gender were the best predictors of higher sensory sensitivity scores. This study did find a relationship between positive symptoms and patterns of SMD, suggesting that the relationship may actually be between psychosis and SMD and not schizophrenia. However, due to the small sample size, results should be interpreted cautiously and further studies completed.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011


View graphic versionView graphic version