Impaired cognition is a core feature of schizophrenia (SZ) that precedes, accompanies, and often outlasts a patient's clinical symptoms. The success of new generation antipsychotics, as well as their failure to ameliorate the persistent disabilities associated with the disorder are well documented. Consequently, a number of psychosocial and cognitive interventions have been developed to address specific aspects of disability not adequately alleviated by medication.
Among these, interventions adapted from the acquired brain literature that target cognitively based disability (cognitive remediation therapy; CRT) have received significant empirical support both for ameliorating specific deficits in memory, attention and executive function, and improving real world outcome. CRT strategies have focused either on providing drill-based training aimed at increasing capacity or providing behavioural strategies for compensating for cognitive deficits, or a mixture of both. Nonetheless, these interventions have varied widely and several questions remain.
This review provides a brief overview of cognitive remediation therapies in psychosis, discusses evidence for its success, and outlines a number of questions that remain about its implementation. Given the current unavailability of cognitive remediation as part of standard care in Irish mental health services, we conclude by describing one such intervention developed within our clinical research group and the questions we hope to address in making this programme more widely available to Irish patients.