Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Daniel N. Allen

Number of Pages



Substance abuse co-occurs at high rates with schizophrenia, with alcohol as the most commonly abused substance. Dual diagnoses have been associated with lower levels of quality of life; greater rates of medication noncompliance, homelessness, hostility, violence, legal problems, interpersonal conflict; and increased costs for services; The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of alcohol dependence on emotion processing in schizophrenia. There are currently no studies that investigate this. Research has identified deficits in facial affect processing and cognitive functioning in schizophrenia and chronic alcoholism. However, the level of impairment is less severe in alcoholism; The current study investigated whether alcohol dependence detrimentally impacted emotion processing in schizophrenia. A comprehensive evaluation of diagnosis, symptoms, emotion processing, and neuropsychological functioning was performed for three groups of participants: Comorbid Schizophrenia with Alcohol Dependence (SZA), Schizophrenia (SZ), and Healthy Control (HC). There were 22 participants in each group who were screened for inclusion and exclusion criteria. Informed consent was obtained and participants were administered the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM-IV to confirm diagnoses in the SZA and SZ groups and rule-out psychopathology in the HC group. Severity of psychiatric symptoms and extrapyramidal side-effects were rated for individuals in the schizophrenia groups. Individuals in the SZA group were assessed for the severity of alcohol use, current and past. All participants were administered neuropsychological and emotion processing tests; Results of emotion processing testing revealed that the schizophrenia groups were more impaired on tests of facial affect labeling and discrimination and learning a list of emotional words than the HC group, regardless of the type of emotion. Results of neuropsychological testing revealed that the HC group outperformed the schizophrenia groups on tests of visual spatial processing, facial perception, verbal learning and memory, general knowledge, and attention. However, the SZA and SZ group did not significantly differ across tests; In conclusion, the study did not support the presence of an additive detrimental effect on emotion processing and cognitive functioning for dually diagnosed individuals. Instead, this study revealed that individuals with schizophrenia had more global deficits in cognitive and emotion processing.


Alcohol; Alcohol Dependence; Combined; Dependence; Dual Diagnosis; Effects; Emotion; Emotion Processing; Schizophrenia; Substance Dependence

Controlled Subject

Clinical psychology

File Format


File Size

5038.08 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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