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Schizophr Bull. 2006 Oct;32 Suppl 1:S64-80. Epub 2006 Aug 11.

Efficacy of psychological therapy in schizophrenia: conclusions from meta-analyses.

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  • 1Department of Psychotherapy, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Laupenstrasse 49, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland. mario.pfammatter@spk.unibe.ch


Over the past years, evidence for the efficacy of psychological therapies in schizophrenia has been summarized in a series of meta-analyses. The present contribution aims to provide a descriptive survey of the evidence for the efficacy of psychological therapies as derived from these meta-analyses and to supplement them by selected findings from an own recent meta-analysis. Relevant meta-analyses and randomized controlled trials were identified by searching several electronic databases and by hand searching of reference lists. In order to compare the findings of the existing meta-analyses, the reported effect sizes were extracted and transformed into a uniform effect size measure where possible. For the own meta-analysis, weighted mean effect size differences between comparison groups regarding various types of outcomes were estimated. Their significance was tested by confidence intervals, and heterogeneity tests were applied to examine the consistency of the effects. From the available meta-analyses, social skills training, cognitive remediation, psychoeducational coping-oriented interventions with families and relatives, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy of persistent positive symptoms emerge as effective adjuncts to pharmacotherapy. Social skills training consistently effectuates the acquisition of social skills, cognitive remediation leads to short-term improvements in cognitive functioning, family interventions decrease relapse and hospitalization rates, and cognitive behavioral therapy results in a reduction of positive symptoms. These benefits seem to be accompanied by slight improvements in social functioning. However, open questions remain as to the specific therapeutic ingredients, to the synergistic effects, to the indication, as well as to the generalizability of the findings to routine care.

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