Background: Most severe mental disorders have their onset between the age of 17 and 27, a time when many young adults begin participating in secondary or post-secondary education. The cognitive deficits typically associated with psychiatric disorders, especially psychotic disorders, increase the risk of leaving school early, which can lead to a reduction in employment opportunities later on in life and, in turn, a poorer long-term prognosis. Therefore, specific interventions aiming to improve these cognitive functions are needed. Cognitive remediation (CR) aims to improve cognitive functioning and may increase real-world functioning in educational performance. This study aims to examine the feasibility and applicability of a CR training named Mindset for students with psychotic disorders in the Netherlands.
Methods/design: Sixty students diagnosed with a psychotic disorder and currently reporting cognitive deficits will be included from four Dutch Mental Health Care institutes. Half of the participants (N = 30) will be randomly assigned to the CR training consisting of twelve, individual, weekly 1-h meetings. The other half will be assigned to an active control condition consisting of twelve weekly assignments that will be sent by email aiming to improve school performance. Students will be evaluated at baseline (T0), directly after finishing the CR training or control intervention (T1), and 6 months later (T2). Treatment feasibility will be the primary outcome, using evaluation forms, interviews with trainers and participants, number of study drop outs, and patient eligibility and recruitment rates. School functioning, cognitive functioning, and strategy use will also be assessed to get a preliminary idea of the potential effectiveness of the intervention.
Discussion: The CR training in this study will provide real-world examples and exercises aimed to teach useful strategies to cope with the cognitive deficits experienced by students with psychotic disorders. Furthermore, since students with other psychiatric disorders might also experience cognitive deficits, the results of this study may also provide some further implications for future studies on the effect of this CR training for students with these disorders.
Trial registration: The study was registered with Trialregister.nl, no. NL6590 (NTR6764), date registered: September 7, 2017. Register name: Mindset. A cognitive rehabilitation training for young adults with psychotic spectrum disorder in an educational setting: A pilot study.Protocol version: 3, date December 23, 2019.