BACKGROUND: Feasible and effective interventions to improve daily functioning in people with a severe mental illness (SMI), such as schizophrenia, in need of longer-term rehabilitation are scarce.
AIMS: We assessed the effectiveness of Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT), a compensatory intervention to improve daily functioning, modified into a nursing intervention.
METHOD: In this cluster randomized controlled trial, 12 nursing teams were randomized to CAT in addition to treatment as usual (CAT; n = 42) or TAU (n = 47). Daily functioning (primary outcome) was assessed every 3 months for 1 year. Additional follow-up assessments were performed for the CAT group in the second year. Secondary outcomes were assessed every 6 months. Data were analyzed using multilevel modeling.
RESULTS: CAT participants improved significantly on daily functioning, executive functioning, and visual attention after 12 months compared to TAU. Improvements were maintained after 24 months. Improved executive functioning was related to improved daily functioning. Other secondary outcomes (quality of life, empowerment, negative symptoms) showed no significant effects.
CONCLUSIONS: As a nursing intervention, CAT leads to maintained improvements in daily functioning, and may improve executive functioning and visual attention in people with SMI in need of longer-term intensive psychiatric care. Given the paucity of evidence-based interventions in this population, CAT can become a valuable addition to recovery-oriented care.