BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to assess whether planning and problem-solving training is more effective in improving functional capacity in patients with schizophrenia than a training program addressing basic cognitive functions.
METHODS: Eighty-nine patients with schizophrenia were randomly assigned either to a computer assisted training of planning and problem-solving or a training of basic cognition. Outcome variables included planning and problem-solving ability as well as functional capacity, which represents a proxy measure for functional outcome.
RESULTS: Planning and problem-solving training improved one measure of planning and problem-solving more strongly than basic cognition training, while two other measures of planning did not show a differential effect. Participants in both groups improved over time in functional capacity. There was no differential effect of the interventions on functional capacity.
CONCLUSION: A differential effect of targeting specific cognitive functions on functional capacity could not be established. Small differences on cognitive outcome variables indicate a potential for differential effects. This will have to be addressed in further research including longer treatment programs and other settings.