Effect of Action-Based Cognitive Remediation on cognitive impairment in patients with remitted bipolar disorder: A randomized controlled trial

Bipolar Disord. 2021 Aug;23(5):487-499. doi: 10.1111/bdi.13021. Epub 2020 Oct 29.


Objectives: Cognitive impairment affects many patients with bipolar disorder (BD), and treatments with replicated pro-cognitive effects are lacking. This study aimed to assess the effect of Action-Based Cognitive Remediation (ABCR) vs control treatment on cognitive impairment in patients with BD.

Methods: Patients with remitted BD with objective cognitive impairment were randomized to 10 weeks of ABCR vs control treatment, and assessed at baseline, after 2 weeks of treatment, at treatment completion and at 6 months follow-up. The primary outcome was a cognitive composite score. Secondary outcomes were executive function and observer-rated functional capacity. Tertiary measures included additional neuropsychological tests, performance-based functional capacity and quality of life. Data were analysed with linear mixed effects models.

Results: In total, 64 participants were randomized; given three dropouts before the baseline assessments, data were analysed for 61 participants (ABCR: n = 32, control: n = 29). There was no effect on ABCR vs control on the primary cognitive composite score (P-values ≥.60). At treatment completion, there was a large effect of ABCR vs control on the secondary executive function measure (treatment effect= -0.16, 95% CI [-0.27, -0.05], P ≤ .01, d = 0.65), and on subjective cognitive functioning (treatment effect = -5.38, 95% CI [-8.13, -2.67], P ≤ .001, d = 0.80), which disappeared at follow-up. There was no treatment-effect on functioning, and no association between cognitive and functional change.

Conclusions: There was no effect of ABCR on the cognitive composite score. However, there was an effect on executive function and subjective cognitive functioning suggesting that ABCR may be relevant for patients with executive dysfunction.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03295305.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder* / complications
  • Bipolar Disorder* / therapy
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / etiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / therapy
  • Cognitive Remediation*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Quality of Life

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03295305