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Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Early-Stage Schizophrenia

This study has been completed.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Matcheri S. Keshavan MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Identifier:
First received: September 9, 2005
Last updated: January 6, 2017
Last verified: January 2017
This study will determine the effectiveness of cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) in treating cognitive abnormalities in people experiencing the early stages of schizophrenia.

Condition Intervention Phase
Behavioral: Cognitive enhancement therapy (CET)
Behavioral: Enriched supportive therapy (EST)
Phase 3

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Rehabilitation, Brain Function and Early Schizophrenia

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Clinical, neuropsychological, and functional outcomes [ Time Frame: Measured at Years 1 and 3 ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Neuroimaging parameters [ Time Frame: Measured at Year 2 ]

Enrollment: 67
Study Start Date: August 2001
Study Completion Date: December 2016
Primary Completion Date: August 2009 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: 1
Participants will receive cognitive enhancement therapy
Behavioral: Cognitive enhancement therapy (CET)
Using 80 to 100 hours of graduated exercises in computer assisted training, coupled with structured but unrehearsed in vivo social group interactions, CET tries to shift an early developmental reliance on effortful, serial and verbatim cognitive processing to a more gistful, less effortful and spontaneous abstraction of social themes. CET uses attention, memory and problem solving software from three exercises from Ben-Yishay's Orientation Remediation Module (the Attention Reaction Conditioner, Zero Accuracy Conditioner, and Time Estimates) that are graduated in difficulty and designed to enhance vigilance, selective attention, the ability to shift between auditory and visual modalities, and rapid decision-making.
Placebo Comparator: 2
Participants will receive enriched supportive therapy
Behavioral: Enriched supportive therapy (EST)
EST is the commonly recommended (Spaulding 1992) treatment for control and experimental subjects in psychosocial trials. EST is a two-staged treatment that requires weekly one-hour sessions in Phase 1 and biweekly sessions in Phase 2. Some practice principles (e.g., psychoeducation and relaxation training) are provided during the group exercises for CET patients, but individually for EST patients. No attempt is made to control for hours of contact between EST and CET, since offering three hours of supportive therapy to EST subjects is neither logistically feasible nor faithful to the goals and methods of supportive therapy. Further, neurobiological hypotheses related to treatment specificity would be best tested by clear differences in treatment intensity and content.

Detailed Description:

In this study, we wish to determine the neurobiological predictors and the relative efficacy of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) in ameliorating specific cognitive abnormalities presumably mediated by PFC and related brain structures, among younger, early-course schizophrenia patients who potentially have a better prognosis. A series of recent-onset schizophrenic patients, whose psychotic symptoms have successfully been stabilized on an atypical antipsychotic drug for one year following initiation of treatment, will be randomized to CET combined with an enriched supportive therapy (EST) or EST alone, and treated for two years. Subjects will have been assessed on neurobehavioral and clinical indices immediately prior to beginning CET or EST (corresponding with the CNMD 1-year follow-up) and in the proposed study will again be assessed after 1 and 2 years of psychosocial treatment. In a smaller subset of patients, we will also seek to collect preliminary data on the efficacy of CET in reversing the neurobiological alterations in the PFC. The hypotheses of this study are:

  1. The presence of relatively well preserved PFC structure and function (PFC volume, activation with fMRI, and metabolism as measured by proton MRS) at baseline will predict a better response to CET (Neurobiological Prediction Hypothesis).
  2. CET combined with "enriched" supportive psychotherapy (EST) will be more effective than EST alone in ameliorating social and non-social cognitive deficits of patients with early schizophrenic illness whose psychotic symptoms have been stabilized on maintenance chemotherapy (The Treatment Efficacy Hypothesis).
  3. CET will result in additive, positive effects on neurocognitive parameters that were not observed following one year of antipsychotic medication, using a "sequential" treatment design in a subset of patients in whom we have pre-neuroleptic baseline data from CNMD studies (The Treatment Specificity Hypothesis).

Study Design: Subjects will be randomly assigned, once stabilized clinically, to CET plus EST (n = 30) or EST alone (n = 30) and then treated for up to two years. Clinical, neuropsychological, neurological and functional neuroimaging assessments will be administered at baseline and at two annual follow-ups. At the end of CET or EST treatment, subjects will be asked to come back quarterly to meet informally with either their Cognitive Enhancement Therapy clinicians and former group members, or with their Enriched Supportive Therapy clinician. The purpose of these visits is for us to learn more about the successes that patients have had, or about the difficulties that they might have had since leaving the program. Clinician(s) will also share information obtained during this follow-up which might help patient in overcoming these difficulties. At the end of the one-year period post EST or CET treatment, subjects will be assessed on all measures, except for diagnostic, imaging and blood studies.


Ages Eligible for Study:   16 Years to 51 Years   (Child, Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective or schizophreniform disorder at the time of initial assessment
  • Pre-treatment illness duration an average of 5 years, not to exceed 8 years
  • Stable positive symptoms (e.g., if present do not grossly interfere with behavior such as command hallucinations or delusions)
  • Currently maintained and compliant with prescribed antipsychotic medication
  • Socially and cognitively disabled, e.g., meet criteria on a Cognitive Style Scale (score greater than or equal to 7), and Social Cognition Disability Scale (score greater than or equal to 12).

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Alcohol/drug abuse or dependence that has significantly interfered with adjustment in the past two months (e.g., patients currently undergoing D and A treatment must successfully complete their recovery program prior to referral)
  • Organic brain syndrome, including HIV illness (due to its effect on CNS function)
  • IQ below 80 or language skills below the sixth grade level
  • Medical contraindications that preclude an appropriate antipsychotic medication
  • Persistent suicidality
  Contacts and Locations
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00167362

United States, Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, 15213
Sponsors and Collaborators
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Principal Investigator: Matcheri S Keshavan, MD University of Pittsburgh
Principal Investigator: Gerard E Hogarty, MSW University of Pittsburgh
  More Information

Publications automatically indexed to this study by Identifier (NCT Number):
Responsible Party: Matcheri S. Keshavan MD, PI, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Identifier: NCT00167362     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: R01MH060902 ( US NIH Grant/Contract Award Number )
Study First Received: September 9, 2005
Last Updated: January 6, 2017

Keywords provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center:

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders
Mental Disorders processed this record on April 21, 2017