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Important new study of CBT for schizophrenia

JUNE 20, 2008

Professor Philippa Garety, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, along with colleagues, has published an important new muti-centre study , funded by the Wellcome Trust, entitled 'CBT and family intervention for relapse prevention & symptom reduction in psychosis: randomised controlled trial' in the June issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Previous research has already proven that family interventions can help reduce relapse rates in psychosis patients, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been shown to improve positive symptoms (such as delusions and hallucinations).  However, as yet CBT has not been tested to evaluate its effectiveness on relapse rates.  The research written up in this latest paper aimed to test the effectiveness of CBT and family intervention in reducing relapse rates in patients with psychosis.  It also aimed to examineimprovements in symptoms and coping in patients who had recently relapsed. 

The study found that CBT did not reduce relapse rates for an unselected group of recently relapsed patients, though improvements in depression were demonstrated. Furthermore  for a sub-group of patients, who were in a close relationship with carers, CBT led to improvements in delusions and social functioning. This finding, that CBT outcomes are better for those with carers, has not previously been shown and raises intriguing questions about how the involvement of carers might facilitate improvements in CBT. Family intervention did not reduce relapse, though this may have been attributable in this study to the low overall rates of relapse in those patients with carers.

Professor Garety is an experienced clinician-researcher, combining clinical psychology practice with research into cognitive and emotional processes in psychosis, ultimately directed towards the goal of improving psychological treatments.  This paper is makes an important contribution to the evidence  in the on-going investigation of the psychological treatment of psychosis.

The papers authors were: Philippa.A. Garety, David G. Fowler, Daniel Freeman, Paul Bebbington, Graham Dunn and Elizabeth Kuipers. Please refer to the journal for a copy of the whole paper.

Two editorial commentary articles highlighting the importance of this research were also published in the same issue of the journal, and authored by the journal's editor Peter Tyrer (Securing the strands of schizophrenia safely) and Professor Jan Scott, Professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Newcastle (Cognitive behavioural therapy for severe mental disorders: Back to the future?).
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