Background. There is good evidence now that cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is effective in the treatment of people suffering from schizophrenia. There is also some evidence that the benefits of CBT persist after the end of treatment and that the direct costs of providing CBT as an adjunct to standard care are no higher than the direct costs of standard care alone. The aims of the present study were to discover if the benefits of CBT for acute schizophrenia which were found 1 year after index admission persist for another year, and to evaluate the comparative costs of providing CBT.
Method. Consecutive admissions meeting criteria were recruited. After screening, 43 were assigned at random to a treatment-as-usual (TAU) control group and 47 were assigned to TAU plus CBT. Patients (73% of original) were rated on symptoms and social functioning 2 years after index admission. An evaluation of the direct costs of services was also completed.
Results. The CBT group had maintained its advantage over the TAU group on negative symptoms and social functioning but had lost the advantage it previously enjoyed in positive symptoms. The difference between groups in total direct costs over the 2 years was not statistically significant despite the cost of providing CBT.
Conclusions. Some of the benefits of CBT for patients suffering acute psychotic episodes persist for 2 years. After the end of regular treatment, CBT should probably be targeted on the appearance of early signs of relapse to forestall the re-emergence of positive symptoms.