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Comprehensive family therapy: an effective approach for cognitive rehabilitation in schizophrenia

Authors Cai J, Zhu Y, Zhang W, Wang Y, Zhang C, Wang P

Received 26 February 2015

Accepted for publication 10 April 2015

Published 21 May 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 1247—1253


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang

Jun Cai,1 Yi Zhu,1 Weibo Zhang,1 Yanfeng Wang,1 Chen Zhang2

1Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Shanghai Mental Health Center, 2Schizophrenia Program, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

Background: Antipsychotic medication has limited abilities to improve the cognitive impairments that accompany schizophrenia. Adding psychosocial treatment may result in marked improvements in cognitive function, as compared to antipsychotic treatment alone. We hypothesized that a combination of individual and family interventions may be a useful cognitive rehabilitation paradigm for schizophrenia. 
Materials and methods: An 18-month follow-up clinical trial of 256 stabilized patients with schizophrenia at six communities in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China were randomly assigned to into either a comprehensive family therapy (CFT) group or a usual daily care (UDC) group. The Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) and the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) were the primary outcome instruments for this study. 
Results: There was no significant difference between the CFT and UDC for all demographic characteristics at the baseline assessment. During the 18-month follow-up observation, changes in RBANS total score indicated that patients undergoing CFT showed greater improvement from baseline to the follow-up assessments in cognitive function than those in the UDC group (F=9.77, P=0.002). Post hoc analysis showed that the CFT group presented with significant differences in the RBANS total score, immediate memory, visuospatial skill, language, attention, and delayed memory sections compared with the UDC after 18 months of follow-up (all P<0.01).
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that CFT can be easily adapted and may prove to be an effective approach for improving cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia. Our program provides a potential paradigm for cognitive rehabilitation for schizophrenia patients in the community.

Keywords: cognitive function, comprehensive family therapy, schizophrenia

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