Repetitive behaviors in schizophrenia: A single disturbance or discrete symptoms?

Joseph I. Tracy, Jose De Leon, Ghayyur Qureshi, Eileen M. McCann, Amy McGrory, Richard C. Josiassen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Schizophrenia patients often display multiple repetitive behaviors. We investigated relations among nine repetitive behaviors and evaluated the hypothesis that these behaviors are varied manifestations of a single underlying biobehavioral disturbance. Nine repetitive behaviors from the Elgin Behavioral Rating Scale were assessed in 400 schizophrenia patients residing at a state hospital. A majority of patients were smokers (76.3%) and very few had pica (3%). Several other repetitive behaviors showed substantial frequency. A principal components analysis revealed eight of nine behaviors shared at least 10% of their variance with a single, common component. However, a principal factor analysis suggested a five-factor model best represented the data. The five factors and items identifying them were: (1) 'oral consumption' behaviors - polydipsia and smoking; (2) 'Kluver-Bucy' behaviors - bulimia and hypersexuality; (3) 'movement' behaviors - mannerisms/postures and pacing; (4) 'bizarre use of objects' - bizarre grooming and hoarding; (5) 'Pica'. Associations among repetitive behaviors varied. Symptoms such as smoking and polydipsia appeared reliably related, and others such as pica appeared discrete and independent. Overall, the data did not support the 'single disturbance' hypothesis and suggested a multifactorial model is needed to characterize repetitive behavior disturbances in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-229
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 1996

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Special recognition is reserved for Albert R. DiDario, Superintendent, Norristown State Hospital, Norristown, PA, who provided the neces- sary administrative support and encouragement for the Clinical Research Center which carried out this project. The authors would also like to thank the staff of Norristown State Hospital for their assistance during all aspects of this research. Without their support this project would not have been possible. This project was supported, in part, by NIMH Grant #MHS3397-01 awarded to Joseph I. Tracy, Ph.D. Portions of the results of this study were presented at the 1994 American Psychiatric Association Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • polydipsia
  • repetitive behaviors
  • schizophrenia
  • smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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