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Computerized cognitive training is associated with improved psychosocial treatment engagement in schizophrenia


Poor treatment engagement is an enduring problem in the care of patients with schizophrenia. Evidence suggests that targeted cognitive training (TCT) improves cognition and functional outcomes, but this time-consuming intervention might reduce patients' engagement in other treatment activities when implemented in real-world settings. This is especially true of residential care programs which encourage patients to engage in group therapies, self-care, and a wide variety of structured social, work, and other rehabilitation activities. This study aimed to determine whether TCT negatively impacts engagement in other psychosocial treatments. Patients with schizophrenia were recruited from a community-based residential care program and randomized to one of two intervention arms: treatment as usual (TAU; n = 22) or TAU augmented with TCT (n = 24). Psychosocial treatment engagement was tracked over 20 weeks. Treatment groups did not significantly differ on baseline variables or psychosocial treatment engagement in the 5 weeks prior to randomization. TCT had a positive effect on engagement (β = 0.112, p = 0.003), but there was no treatment-by-time interaction (β = -0.029, p = 0.672). Participants in TCT engaged in an average of 1.34 additional group therapies, 0.58 additional activities of daily living, and 0.84 additional rehabilitation activities per week in comparison to TAU participants. Baseline cognition was also a significant predictor of psychosocial treatment engagement. Overall, results suggest that TCT can be implemented in real-world settings without negatively impacting engagement in other psychosocial treatments. Additional studies are needed to determine what role nonspecific factors play in the positive impact of TCT.

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