CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: April 19, 2002
UI to pilot study on cognitive therapy for people with schizophrenia
People with schizophrenia can gain benefits from medication but still have
symptoms that cause significant problems. Cognitive therapy used in concert
with medications might help these individuals lead less disrupted lives, a
possibility that University of Iowa Health Care researchers recently received
funding to investigate.
The Nellie Ball Charitable Trust awarded a $19,000 grant to Scott Temple,
Ph.D., UI associate professor (clinical) in psychiatry, and Beng Choon Ho,
M.D., UI assistant professor of psychiatry, for a pilot study to compare patients
who receive cognitive therapy plus standard treatment (medication and case
management services) with patients who receive only standard treatment at
the UI Mental Health Clinical Research Center. Temple said it is one of the
first such studies in the United States.
"Despite adequate trials of medication therapy, people with schizophrenia
often continue to experience moderate to severe symptoms," Temple said.
"Studies in Great Britain found that cognitive therapy techniques that
had been developed for depression and anxiety disorder could be used for schizophrenia.
We want to see if here in Iowa we can provide patients better coping skills
to dampen some of the impact of the illness."
Schizophrenia symptoms include hallucinations (usually auditory) and delusions.
Temple said these symptoms can cause patients to avoid situations where hallucinations
will cause difficulty for them, including the workplace and social events.
Such withdrawal, in turn, leads to loss of quality of life.
Cognitive therapy is a well-established form of psychotherapy that has considerable
empirical evidence for depression and anxiety disorders and is increasingly
being investigated for use with personality and other mood disorders, Temple
The therapy is based on getting patients to consider how they interpret
and deal with their symptoms and then helping them develop and test alterative
ways of managing those symptoms.
"A patient might report that it's really hard for them to go places
and be in public because of the symptoms," Temple said. "So I'll
work with the patient to see how they interpret their symptoms and help them
come up with an alternative reaction to them.
"Then the patient will go test out the interpretation we build in therapy
and compare it to their original interpretation of the experience, "
As an example, Temple said a patient might state, "I can't go to a
restaurant because when I'm in a restaurant I'm convinced everyone there is
picking up the voices I hear."
Temple could work with the patient to develop a test of that interpretation
such as going to a restaurant and looking for any evidence that tells them
that people know what they're thinking.
"We'll be looking for a reduction in the effects of the symptoms,"
Family members of people with schizophrenia might participate in the therapy.
"Family members may be the people on whom the patients first want to
test out their interpretations as interpersonal problems are very common,"
The UI pilot study is expected to involve about 20 patients. Temple said
that after the team examines the data, they can consider expanding the research
to train more people to administer the therapy and modify it as needed to
The Nellie Ball Charitable Trust was established in 1977 by Ball's estate.
The trust is administered locally through Iowa State Bank and supports research
related to chronic mental illnesses, primarily schizophrenia and paranoia.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between
the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and
Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and
services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.