Difficulties in thinking and socializing, known as "negative"
symptoms, often develop in patients with schizophrenia and
typically persist even after hallucinations, delusions, and other
"positive" symptoms of the disorder are under control. Various
types of cognitive remediation therapies exist to improve mental
and social functioning, but most have been studied only in patients
with chronic schizophrenia.
In a study testing a cognitive intervention earlier in the
schizophrenia disease process, researchers at the University of
Pittsburgh published a series of papers about a randomized
controlled trial evaluating a hybrid therapy, cognitive enhancement
therapy, that combines cognitive remediation techniques with social
skills training. The core study involved 58 young adult outpatients
(the average age was 26) who were diagnosed either with
schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Patients had experienced
their first psychotic symptom an average of three years prior to
entry into the study; nearly 80% had been ill for fewer than five
years. All had symptoms under control as the study began and
continued taking their antipsychotic medications.
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