Background. The paper describes a randomized controlled trial of targeting cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) during prodromal or early signs of relapse in schizophrenia. We hypothesized that CBT would result in reduced admission and relapse, reduced positive and negative symptoms, and improved social functioning.
Method. A total of 144 participants with schizophrenia or a related disorder were randomized to receive either treatment as usual (TAU) (N=72) or CBT+TAU (N=72). Participants were prospectively followed up between entry and 12 months.
Results. At 12 months, 11 (15·3%) participants in the CBT group were admitted to hospital compared to 19 (26·4%) of the TAU group (hazard ratio=0·53, P=0·10, 95% CI 0·25, 1·10). A total of 13 (18·1%) participants in CBT relapsed compared to 25 (34·7%) in TAU (hazard ratio=0·47, P<0·05, 95% CI 0·24, 0·92). In addition, the CBT group showed significantly greater improvement in positive symptoms, negative symptoms, global psychopathology, performance of independent functions and prosocial activities.
Conclusions. The study provides evidence for the feasibility and effectiveness for targeting CBT on the appearance of early signs of relapse in schizophrenia. The results are discussed in context of the study's methodological limitations.