Cognitive-behavioural therapy in first-episode and early schizophrenia
18-month follow-up of a randomised controlled trial
Nicholas Tarrier, Shôn Lewis, Gillian Haddock, Richard Bentall, Richard Drake, Peter Kinderman, David Kingdon, Ronald Siddle, Julie Everitt, Karen Leadley, Andy Benn, Katy Grazebrook, Cliff Haley, Shahid Akhtar, Linda Davies, Steve Palmer, Graham Dunn


Background The initial phase of a trial of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for acutely ill patients with schizophrenia of recent onset showed that it speeded recovery.

Aims To testthe hypothesis that CBT in addition to treatment as usual (TAU) during the first or second acute episode of schizophrenia will confer clinical benefit over a follow-up period.

Method This was an18-month follow-up of a multicentre prospective trial of CBT or supportive counselling administered as an adjunct to TAU, compared with TAU alone, for patients hospitalised for an acute episode of schizophrenia of recent onset. Primary outcomes were total and positive symptom scales, time to relapse and re-hospitalisation.

Results There were significant advantages for CBT and supportive counselling over TAU alone on symptom measures at18 months but no group difference was seen for relapse or re-hospitalisation. There was a significant centre-treatment interaction, reflecting centre differences in the effect of introducing either treatment, but not in the comparison of CBTand supportive counselling. Medication dosage and compliance did not explain group differences.

Conclusions Adjunctive psychological treatments can have a beneficial long-term effect on symptom reduction.

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