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176. Talk or Text? Patterns and Perceptions of Face-to-Face and Digital Communication in the Prodromal and Early Stages of Psychosis
Impaired social functioning leads to isolation and reduced quality of life in psychosis. Digital communication permits the formation and maintenance of social ties from a distance and in a less stigmatized environment, which may mitigate some challenges that arise from face-to-face interactions. We compared face-to-face and digital interactions for first episode psychosis (FEP; n=44), clinical high risk for psychosis (CHR; n=19), and community controls (n=45). A novel 25-item self-report questionnaire assessed frequency, satisfaction, and barriers to face-to-face and digital communication. Controls communicated more frequently (p<.001,partial η2=.41), reported higher satisfaction (p<.001,partial η2=.17), and had fewer barriers to communication (p<.001,partial η2=.16) than clinical groups. Controls reported higher satisfaction with face-to-face over digital communication (p<.001). A significant interaction of barriers to communication, p=.01,partial η2=.09, showed controls reporting more challenges with digital than face-to-face communication. No significant differences emerged between FEP and CHR. These results highlight that CHR individuals, despite not meeting diagnostic criteria for a psychotic disorder, are more aligned in their communication patterns and preferences with those in the early stages of illness. Results from this study provide insight into communication preferences in early psychosis, which may inform more tailored and effective approaches for targeting social difficulties and enhancing social networks.