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Medical News and Perspectives
October 26, 2011

Cognitive Therapy May Aid Patients With Schizophrenia

JAMA. 2011;306(16):1749. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1553

Targeted cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may improve negative symptoms, such as a lack of motivation, in severely impaired patients with schizophrenia, new findings suggest.

Most treatments for schizophrenia target the positive symptoms of the disorder, such as hallucinations and delusions. Yet negative symptoms of the disorder, such as a lack of motivation and deficits in cognition and language, are often the most disabling for patients.

A team of researchers recently conducted a single-center randomized trial to see if CBT focusing on reducing fear of failure and patients' efforts to avoid failure could improve functioning in patients with schizophrenia. The 60 trial participants had difficulties with information processing related to memory, attention, and executive functioning, as well as residual positive symptoms despite treatment. These severely impaired patients were randomly assigned to receive either 18 months of standard treatment (usually involving medication) or 18 months of standard treatment plus CBT (Grant PM et al. Arch Gen Psychiatry. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.129 [published online ahead of print October 3, 2011]).

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