CBT ineffective for schizophrenia
CBT is not an effective treatment for people with schizophrenia, and only has limited effect on depression, say University of Hertfordshire researchers.
The team from the university’s school of psychology looked at clinical trials which compared cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a ‘psychological placebo’.
They also investigated the impact of ‘blinding’ – whether or not the people who assessed the patients knew if they were receiving active treatment or not.
Both of these factors are considered essential before a drug treatment is approved for use in psychiatric disorders. But according to the researchers, not a single trial they reviewed that employed blinding and psychological placebo found CBT to be effective in reducing symptoms or preventing relapses in people withschizophrenia.
The therapy is also ineffective in preventing relapses in bipolar disorder, and only has a weak effect in reducing symptoms of major depression, the researchers said.
However, CBT does have a greater effect in preventing relapses in people with depression, they acknowledged.
Lead study author, professor Keith Laws, said: ‘The results of this review are important because in March NICE re-approved CBT for use in all people with schizophrenia.
‘The government is also investing millions of pounds to provide CBT for depression and anxiety in 250 dedicated therapy centres in England. Yet the evidence here is that the effectiveness of this form of therapy may be less than previously thought, to the point of being non-existent in schizophrenia,’ he added.
The study findings are published online in the journal Psychological Medicine.