Background. In order to improve the treatment of medication-resistant negative symptoms in schizophrenia, new interventions are needed. Neuropsychological considerations and older reports in the literature point towards a potential benefit of body-oriented psychological therapy (BPT). This is the first randomized controlled trial specifically designed to test the effectiveness of manualized BPT on negative symptoms in chronic schizophrenia.
Method. Out-patients with DSM-IV continuous schizophrenia were randomly allocated to either BPT (n=24) or supportive counseling (SC, n=21). Both therapies were administered in small groups in addition to treatment as usual (20 sessions over 10 weeks). Changes in negative symptom scores on the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS) between baseline, post-treatment and 4-month follow-up were taken as primary outcome criteria in an intention-to-treat analysis.
Results. Patients receiving BPT attended more sessions and had significantly lower negative symptom scores after treatment (PANSS negative, blunted affect, motor retardation). The differences held true at 4-month follow-up. Other aspects of psychopathology and subjective quality of life did not change significantly in either group. Treatment satisfaction and ratings of the therapeutic relationship were similar in both groups.
Conclusions. BPT may be an effective treatment for negative symptoms in patients with chronic schizophrenia. The findings should merit further trials with larger sample sizes and detailed studies to explore the therapeutic mechanisms involved.
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