Background. Recent reviews of randomized controlled trials have concluded that cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is effective, as an addition to standard care, in the treatment of people suffering from schizophrenia. Most of the trials have been conducted with stabilized out-patients. The aim of this trial was to evaluate the effectiveness of CBT for in-patients suffering acute psychotic episodes, when delivered under conditions representative of current clinical practice.
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. At baseline, 6 months and 12 months, patients were rated on symptoms and social functioning. CBT (maximum 25 sessions) began immediately after baseline assessment.
Results. The CBT group gained greater benefit than the TAU group on symptoms and social functioning. A larger proportion of the CBT group (60%) than the TAU group (40%) showed reliable and clinically important change, and none of them (v. 17%) showed reliable deterioration compared with baseline.
Conclusions. CBT for patients suffering acute psychotic episodes can produce significant benefits when provided under clinically representative conditions.