Cognitive remediation improves cognition in patients with schizophrenia, but its effect on other relevant factors such as negative symptoms and functional outcome has not been extensively studied. In this hospital-based study, 84 inpatients with chronic schizophrenia were recruited from Alava Hospital (Spain). All of the subjects underwent a baseline and a 3-month assessment that examined neurocognition, clinical symptoms, insight, and functional outcome according to the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale and Disability Assessment Schedule from World Health Organization (DAS-WHO). In addition to receiving standard treatment, patients were randomly assigned either to receive neuropsychological rehabilitation (REHACOP) or to a control group. REHACOP is an integrative program that taps all basic cognitive functions. The program included experts' latest suggestions about positive feedback and activities of daily living in the patients' environment. The REHACOP group showed significantly greater improvements at 3 months in the areas of neurocognition, negative symptoms, disorganization, and emotional distress compared with the control group (Cohen's effect size for these changes ranged from d = 0.47 for emotional distress to d = 0.58 for disorganization symptoms). The REHACOP group also improved significantly in both the GAF (d = 0.61) and DAS-WHO total scores (d = 0.57). Specifically, the patients showed significant improvement in vocational outcomes (d = 0.47), family contact (d = 0.50), and social competence (d = 0.56). In conclusion, neuropsychological rehabilitation may be useful for the reduction of negative symptoms and functional disability in schizophrenia. These findings support the integration of neuropsychological rehabilitation into standard treatment programs for patients with schizophrenia.
Keywords: REHACOP; cognitive rehabilitation; functional outcome; negative symptoms; schizophrenia.