An open clinical trial assessing a novel training program for social cognitive impairment in schizophrenia


Objective: Social cognition is profoundly impaired in patients with schizophrenia. This study describes `Mental-State Reasoning Training for Social Cognitive Impairment’ (SoCog-MSRT), a 5-week program developed to improve social cognition in patients with schizophrenia. We aimed to investigate the feasibility of implementing SoCog-MSRT in a rehabilitation setting and to evaluate whether our training methods produced improvements. Method The feasibility and benefits of SoCog-MSRT were evaluated in an open clinical trial with 14 participants with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Training comprised 10 twice-weekly sessions, for 5 weeks, with a pre- and post-training assessment. Results: There were significant improvements on: (a) a classic false-belief test of Theory of Mind (ToM); (b) inferring complex mental states from the eyes; and (c) a self-reported measure of social understanding. Some of these improvements were associated with baseline levels of working memory and premorbid Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Conclusions SoCog-MSRT can improve ToM abilities and social understanding, but individuals with poorer working memory and lower premorbid IQ may be less able to benefit from this type of training.

Australasian Psychiatry, (21), 2, pp. 122–126,