In a pilot randomized controlled trial led by Eric Granholm, PhD, and colleagues, researchers found that combined Cognitive-Behavioral Social Skills Training and Compensatory Cognitive Training (CBSST-CCT) intervention effectively treated negative symptoms and cognitive impairment in patients with schizophrenia.

They noted that, in patients with a high burden of negative symptoms, “CBSST-CCT improved verbal learning and reduced the severity of negative symptoms,” when compared to goal-focused supportive contact (SC).

The study randomized 55 adults with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, with moderate-to-severe negative symptoms, into test groups to receive 25 twice-weekly, one hour manualized group sessions of either CBSST-CCT or SC delivered by master’s-level clinicians in five community settings.

The primary outcome of negative symptom severity and secondary outcomes (including neuropsychological performance, functional capacity, and self-reported everyday functioning) were assessed at baseline, mid-treatment, post-treatment, and at a six-month follow-up using the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS).

Mixed-effects models using treatment data showed that CBSST-CCT had significant effects on negative symptom severity (p = .049, r = 0.22), with improvements in diminished motivation driving this effect (p = .037, r = 0.24). The CBSST-CCT group also demonstrated improved verbal learning compared to SC participants (p = .026, r = 0.36). The effects appeared persistent after follow-up visits at six months.

However, the study’s authors acknowledged certain limitations, including a high dropout rate. Additionally, the authors did not correct for multiple statistical comparisons. They suggest that future studies should examine variables that affect treatment adherence and outcomes in patients with severe negative symptoms, as well as evaluate the mechanisms of CBSST-CCT’s effects and predictors of outcomes.

Despite these limitations, the researchers suggest that CBSST-CCT has the potential to improve negative symptoms and cognitive functioning in individuals with schizophrenia, and further studies are needed to explore the technique further.


Source: Schizophrenia Bulletin