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Social cognitive training for adults with Noonan syndrome: a feasibility study

Authors Roelofs RL, Wingbermühle E, Kessels RPC, Egger JIM

Received 9 July 2018

Accepted for publication 18 December 2018

Published 26 February 2019 Volume 2019:15 Pages 611—626


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Renée L Roelofs,1,2 Ellen Wingbermühle,1,2 Roy PC Kessels,2–4 Jos IM Egger1–3,5

1Centre of Excellence for Neuropsychiatry, Vincent van Gogh Institute for Psychiatry, Venray, The Netherlands; 2Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; 3Centre of Excellence for Korsakoff and Alcohol-Related Cognitive Disorders, Vincent van Gogh Institute for Psychiatry, Venray, The Netherlands; 4Department of Medical Psychology, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; 5Stevig Specialized and Forensic Care for Patients with Intellectual Disabilities, Dichterbij, Oostrum, The Netherlands

Purpose: Noonan syndrome (NS) is a genetic disorder that is associated with social cognitive problems. While treatment aimed at the improvement of social cognition is available for other neuropsychiatric disorders, no such interventions yet exist for NS patients. In this study, the development of the first social cognitive training for NS patients is described and its applicability and feasibility evaluated.
Methods: Eleven adult patients with NS participated in this controlled proof-of-principle study. Six patients were included in the treatment group and five in the control group. Neuropsychological testing was performed in both groups at baseline and posttreatment. Social cognition was a primary outcome measure and nonsocial cognition and psychopathology secondary outcome measures. Differences between pre- and posttest were investigated with Wilcoxon signed-rank tests, and a process evaluation was performed to aid interpretation of the results.
Results: Both groups were comparable with regard to age, estimated intelligence, and baseline performance. Although no significant differences were found between pre- and posttest scores on primary and secondary outcome measures in either group, a medium–large effect size was found on emotion recognition in the treatment group. Also, the process evaluation demonstrated the feasibility of the training.
Conclusion: This first social cognitive training for adult patients with NS has proven to be feasible for this population and showed some encouraging results regarding emotion recognition, although the training protocol could be optimized. Further investigation is required using a randomized controlled design in a larger sample, in order to substantiate the overall effectiveness of the training.

Keywords: social cognition, alexithymia, cognition, social cognitive intervention, genetic syndrome

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