Identifying clinically meaningful symptom response cut-off values on the SANS in predominant negative symptoms

Stephen Z. Levine, Stefan Leucht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The treatment and measurement of negative symptoms are currently at issue in schizophrenia, but the clinical meaning of symptom severity and change is unclear. Aim: To offer a clinically meaningful interpretation of severity and change scores on the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS). Method: Patients were intention-to-treat participants (n=383) in two double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials that compared amisulpride with placebo for the treatment of predominant negative symptoms. Equipercentile linking was used to examine extrapolation from (a) CGI-S to SANS severity ratings, and (b) CGI-I to SANS percentage change (n=383). Linking was conducted at baseline, 8-14. days, 28-30. days, and 56-60. days of the trials. Results: Across visits, CGI-S ratings of 'not ill' linked to SANS scores of 0-13, and ranged to 'extreme' ratings that linked to SANS scores of 102-105. The relationship between the CGI-S and the SANS severity scores assumed a linear trend (1=0-13, 2=15-56, 3=37-61, 4=49-66, 5=63-75, 6=79-89, 7=102-105). Similarly the relationship between CGI-I ratings and SANS percentage change followed a linear trend. For instance, CGI-I ratings of 'very much improved' were linked to SANS percent changes of 90 to 67, 'much improved' to 50 to 42, and 'minimally improved' to 21 to 13. Conclusions: The current results uniquely contribute to the debate surrounding negative symptoms by providing clinical meaning to SANS severity and change scores and so offer direction regarding clinically meaningful response cut-off scores to guide treatment targets of predominant negative symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-127
Number of pages3
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
In the last three years Stefan Leucht received speaker/consultancy/advisory board honoraria from SanofiAventis, BMS, Alkermes, Eli Lilly, Essex Pharma, AstraZeneca, Janssen/Johnson and Johnson, Lundbeck, Lundbeck Institute, Medavante and Pfizer. Eli Lilly provided medication for a clinical trial with Stefan Leucht as the principal investigator. Stefan Leucht received funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research for a clinical trial and systematic reviews. The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology has provided a travel grant to attend the ACNP meeting in 2010. Stephen Levine has received research support, and/or consultancy fees and/or travel support from F. Hoffmann-La Roche and Eli Lilly.


  • Negative symptoms
  • Schizophrenia
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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