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The effect of rehabilitation combined with cognitive remediation on functioning in persons with severe mental illness: systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Daniëlle van Duin (a1) (a2) (a3), Lars de Winter (a1), Matthijs Oud (a2), Hans Kroon (a2) (a3), Wim Veling (a4) (a5) and Jaap van Weeghel (a1) (a3)...



Psychiatric rehabilitation (PR) can improve functioning in people with severe mental illness (SMI), but outcomes are still suboptimal. Cognitive impairments have severe implications for functioning and might reduce the effects of PR. It has been demonstrated that performance in cognitive tests can be improved by cognitive remediation (CR). However, there is no consistent evidence that CR as a stand-alone intervention leads to improvements in real-life functioning. The present study investigated whether a combination of PR and CR enhances the effect of a stand-alone PR or CR intervention on separate domains of functioning.


A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of PR combined with CR in people with SMI was conducted, reporting on functioning outcomes. A multivariate meta-regression analysis was carried out to evaluate moderator effects.


The meta-analysis included 23 studies with 1819 patients. Enhancing PR with CR had significant beneficial effects on vocational outcomes (e.g. employment rate: SMD = 0.41), and social skills (SMD = 0.24). No significant effects were found on relationships and outcomes of community functioning. Effects on vocational outcomes were moderated by years of education, intensity of the intervention, type of CR approach and integration of treatment goals for PR and CR. Type of PR was no significant moderator.


Augmenting PR by adding cognitive training can improve vocational and social functioning in patients with SMI more than a stand-alone PR intervention. First indications exist that a synergetic mechanism also works the other way around, with beneficial effects of the combined intervention compared with a stand-alone CR intervention.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Daniëlle van Duin, E-mail: and


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The effect of rehabilitation combined with cognitive remediation on functioning in persons with severe mental illness: systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Daniëlle van Duin (a1) (a2) (a3), Lars de Winter (a1), Matthijs Oud (a2), Hans Kroon (a2) (a3), Wim Veling (a4) (a5) and Jaap van Weeghel (a1) (a3)...


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