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Combining Social Skills Training and Tai Chi to Help Patients with Schizophrenia
November 21, 2016 -
Anti-psychotic drugs are limited in their ability to improve negative symptoms, quality of life, and medication adherence in patients with schizophrenia. The addition of nonpharmacological interventions like social skills training has a positive effect on medication adherence and decreases re-hospitalization rates but is limited in improving patients' symptoms, aggressive behaviors, and quality of life. Aerobic exercise, especially Tai Chi, can potentially reduce psychopathological and negative symptoms, decrease aggressive behaviors, and improve quality of life. It is an ideal rehabilitation intervention for patients with schizophrenia. However, no study has investigated the effects of social skills training plus Tai Chi on outcomes among outpatients with schizophrenia.

The journal Psychopathology recently published a study by Capital Medical University in Beijing analyzes the effect of antipsychotics combined with community-based integrated interventions on outcomes of schizophrenia. In this study, a 24-session social skills training plus Tai Chi was used in community settings among patients with schizophrenia. A total of 244 patients were randomly assigned to medication treatment alone (MTA group) or community-based integrated intervention (CBII group), which accepted social skills training plus Tai Chi in addition to medication treatment. Multiple scientific models were used to evaluate the intervention effect (group effect), intervention effect over time (time effect), interaction effect (group x time effect), between-group differences on clinical variables and the differences between the intervention at 12 months and baseline for the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) negative symptoms and quality of life-social domain.

Compared with the MTA (medication treatment alone) group, the CBII group had lower scores on PANSS and negative symptoms, a lower risk for aggressive behavior, and a greater improvement in adherence to medication after 1 year of intervention. The changes in PANSS total scores, negative scores, and social domain of the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale-Brief version (WHOQOL-BREF) from baseline to 12 months were significant between the two groups. Multiple linear regression analysis also showed that the intervention was significantly effective for changes from baseline to 12 months on PANSS total score, negative score, and social domain of quality of life.

This study suggested that the community-based integrated intervention such as social skills training plus Tai Chi should be part of a rehabilitation effort for patients with schizophrenia in order to improve clinical symptoms, quality of life, and medication adherence.


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