Psychological Medicine

Early intervention for relapse in schizophrenia: results of a 12-month randomized controlled trial of cognitive behavioural therapy

A. GUMLEY a1c1, M. O'GRADY a1, L. MCNAY a1, J. REILLY a1, K. POWER a1 and J. NORRIE a1
a1 From the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Glasgow, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, University of Glasgow and Greater Glasgow Primary Care Trust, Glasgow; Ayrshire and Arran Primary Care Trust; and Department of Psychology, University of Stirling


Background. The paper describes a randomized controlled trial of targeting cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) during prodromal or early signs of relapse in schizophrenia. We hypothesized that CBT would result in reduced admission and relapse, reduced positive and negative symptoms, and improved social functioning.

Method. A total of 144 participants with schizophrenia or a related disorder were randomized to receive either treatment as usual (TAU) (N=72) or CBT+TAU (N=72). Participants were prospectively followed up between entry and 12 months.

Results. At 12 months, 11 (15·3%) participants in the CBT group were admitted to hospital compared to 19 (26·4%) of the TAU group (hazard ratio=0·53, P=0·10, 95% CI 0·25, 1·10). A total of 13 (18·1%) participants in CBT relapsed compared to 25 (34·7%) in TAU (hazard ratio=0·47, P<0·05, 95% CI 0·24, 0·92). In addition, the CBT group showed significantly greater improvement in positive symptoms, negative symptoms, global psychopathology, performance of independent functions and prosocial activities.

Conclusions. The study provides evidence for the feasibility and effectiveness for targeting CBT on the appearance of early signs of relapse in schizophrenia. The results are discussed in context of the study's methodological limitations.

c1 Dr Andrew Gumley, University of Glasgow, Department of Psychological Medicine, Academic Centre, Garnavel Royal Hospital, 1055 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 OXH.