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Effectiveness of Brief Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Schizophrenia Delivered by Mental Health Nurses: Relapse and Recovery at 24 Months

J Clin Psychiatry 2009;70(2):201-207
10.4088/JCP.07m03990

Background: Evidence of the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for schizophrenia is increasing. There are very few studies of effectiveness, especially in the medium term.

Objective: To evaluate the durability of the effect of brief CBT provided by mental health nurses in community-based patients with schizophrenia (diagnosed according to ICD-10 research criteria), using time to relapse as primary outcome and days hospitalized and occupational recovery as secondary outcomes at 24-month follow-up.

Method: A 2:1 randomized trial, conducted from 1999 to 2003, was performed to evaluate the effects of brief CBT delivered by mental health nurses trained over 10 days with ongoing supervision compared to treatment as usual (TAU), with measurement performed by raters blind to treatment allocation.

Results: 205 (79.8%) of 257 CBT patients and 125 (75.8%) of 165 TAU patients could be followed up at 24 months. Of 205 patients in the CBT group, 64 (31.2%) relapsed, versus 57 (45.6%) of 125 patients in the TAU group (p = .02). Patients rehospitalized from the CBT group spent a total of 6710 days in hospital (mean=32.7 days), while those from the TAU group were inpatients for 6114 days (mean = 48.9 days) (p 2 test not significant). Mean time to relapse was 356.8 days (SD = 241.9 days) for the CBT group and 296.1 days (SD = 215.7 days) for the TAU group (OR =1.592, 95% CI = 1.038 to 2.441, p =.033).

Conclusion: Beneficial effects on relapse and rehospitalization following brief CBT delivered by mental health nurses in community-based patients with schizophrenia are maintained at 24-month follow-up. Occupational recovery is not improved by brief CBT.