Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for schizophrenia - outcomes for functioning, distress and quality of life: A meta-analysis

Keith R. Laws, Nicole Darlington, Tejinder K. Kondel, Peter J. McKenna, Sameer Jauhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The effect of cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis (CBTp) on the core symptoms of schizophrenia has proven contentious, with current meta-analyses finding at most only small effects. However, it has been suggested that the effects of CBTp in areas other than psychotic symptoms are at least as important and potentially benefit from the intervention. Method: We meta-analysed RCTs investigating the effectiveness of CBTp for functioning, distress and quality of life in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and related disorders. Data from 36 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) met our inclusion criteria- 27 assessing functioning (1579 participants); 8 for distress (465 participants); and 10 for quality of life (592 participants). Results: The pooled effect size for functioning was small but significant for the end-of-trial (0.25: 95% CI: 0.14 to 0.33); however, this became non-significant at follow-up (0.10 [95%CI -0.07 to 0.26]). Although a small benefit of CBT was evident for reducing distress (0.37: 95%CI 0.05 to 0.69), this became nonsignificant when adjusted for possible publication bias (0.18: 95%CI -0.12 to 0.48). Finally, CBTp showed no benefit for improving quality of life (0.04: 95% CI: -0.12 to 0.19). Conclusions: CBTp has a small therapeutic effect on functioning at end-of-trial, although this benefit is not evident at follow-up. Although CBTp produced a small benefit on distress, this was subject to possible publication bias and became nonsignificant when adjusted. We found no evidence that CBTp increases quality of life post-intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalBMC Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2018


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life/psychology
  • Schizophrenia/therapy
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Treatment Outcome


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