Researchers from multiple institutions searched meta-analyses, research reviews, and individual studies from 1995 through March 2013. In this review, they examined four key components of skill building: social skills training (including life skills training), social cognitive training, cognitive remediation, and cognitive-behavioral therapies that target skills for coping with psychotic processes. The researchers chose from three levels of evidence (high, moderate, and low) on the basis of benchmarks for the number of studies and quality of their methodology.
More than 100 randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies support rating the level of evidence as high. Study outcomes indicated strong effectiveness for social skills training, social cognitive training, and cognitive remediation, especially if these interventions are delivered through integrated care approaches. Results are somewhat mixed for life skills training (when studied alone) and cognitive-behavioral approaches.
"The current body of research has established the value of skill-building approaches," the researchers said. "Although further research will help clarify their effects on some outcomes, research is not needed to support the decision to include skill-building approaches as covered services, particularly for individuals with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders."
The article is part of a series of literature reviews being published in Psychiatric Services, commissioned by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. To read more about the "Assessing the Evidence" series, see the Psychiatric News articles, "Study Finds Evidence Showing Supported Employment Works" and "Housing Programs Effective, but Studies Plagued by Limitations."