Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine

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Body psychotherapy in the treatment of negative symptoms of schizophrenia

Centre for Psychiatry

Funding Body: East London NHS Foundation Trust
Project Investigator: Stefan Priebe


Negative symptoms of schizophrenia include phenomena such as blunted affect, motivation deficits, anhedonia and social isolation. Current pharmacological and psychological treatments have failed to demonstrate consistent efficacy in treatment for these symptoms, however a recent review suggested that so-called arts therapies may be effective.

The NESS trial is a full scale multisite randomised controlled trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness of group body psychotherapy in the treatment of negative symptoms. The project builds upon an earlier exploratory trial conducted at the unit which found that body psychotherapy significantly reduced negative symptoms, compared to a group-counselling control group [1].

Activities & Outputs

In this study, 256 participants will be randomised to either receive a ten week, 20 session body psychotherapy group or a Pilates class, designed to control for the non-specific effects of therapist-led structured group activity. All participants will be assessed at baseline, end of treatment and at 6 months follow up, with the primary outcome being measured on by the PANSS negative subscale.

Additional secondary outcomes will includes measures of time use, general psychopathology, quality of life and an analysis of cost effectiveness.

This project is funded by the NIHR-HA programme, started in May 2011, and is expected to run until the beginning of 2015. Recruitment for the trial has now concluded. The NESS Study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment Programme (Ref: HTA 08/116/68)

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