The Family Cognitive Adaptation Training Manual: A Test of Effectiveness

2014-08-27 04:00:40 | BioPortfolio


The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of family cognitive adaptation training, including its impact on functioning and caregiver burden. Families that receive the manual will be compared with a control group of families that will not receive the manual. The larger goal is to add to the tools family members have access to better support their family members with schizophrenia.


Efforts to address the cognitive impacts of schizophrenia can be broadly defined as falling into either compensatory or restorative categories. Restorative interventions, such as cognitive remediation, have shown promise in reducing cognitive deficits and improving functional outcomes (McGurk et al., 2007). In contrast, compensatory approaches such as Cognitive Adaptation Training work around cognitive deficits by changing the client's natural environment to support improved functioning. These compensatory strategies serve to bypass cognitive deficits and negative symptoms by organizing belongings and creating reminders and environmental cues to support specific adaptive behaviors. An example includes the individual packaging of clothes to be worn by day, to simplify the process of choosing what to wear and decrease the likelihood of clients impulsively putting on too many clothes or otherwise dressing in a manner that is not a good fit for the climate or social settings (Draper et al., 2009; Maples & Velligan, 2008).

Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT) is a manualized intervention that was developed to help individuals compensate for the cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia. CAT interventions commence with a neuropsychological assessment of clients to determine the best profile of strategies to be implemented for the specific cognitive classification within which the person is placed. Interventions are based on two dimensions 1) level of executive functioning (as determined by scores on a set of neurocognitive tests) and 2) whether the behaviour of the individual is characterized more by apathy (poverty of speech and movement and difficulty initiating behaviours), disinhibition (distractibility and impulsivity) or a combination of the two. Clinicians then develop and implement an individualized set of strategies that address key domains such as hygiene, safety, dress, and medication. These strategies are then altered for strengths or weaknesses in the areas of attention, memory, and fine motor skills. For example, for someone with poor attention, the colour of signs can be changed regularly or florescent colours can be used to capture attention. For someone with memory problems (particularly those with good auditory attention) audiotapes can be used to sequence behaviour.

CAT interventions are established and maintained in the home during monthly to weekly visits from a CAT therapist/trainer with the intervention typically lasting 9 months in most of the trials that have taken place to date

Outcomes of randomized trials of CAT have been promising. Compared to control conditions, clients receiving CAT have lower levels of symptomatology, lower relapse rates, higher levels of adaptive functioning, better quality of life, and better medication adherence (Velligan et al., 2000; 2002; 2007; 2008a; 2008b). In general, CAT has been shown to be beneficial for individuals with schizophrenia who vary both in degree and type of functional impairment.

The support and involvement of family in the care of individuals with schizophrenia is both one of the most important contributors to wellness and recovery and is also, unfortunately, one of the least acknowledged components of the recovery process. A high proportion of persons with severe mental illness stay in touch with family and the involvement of family in care has been associated with better clinical outcomes, improved quality of life, and less use of hospitalization (e.g., Fischer et al., 2008). Despite evidence of the importance of family in the recovery process, the contribution of family is often not adequately appreciated by treatment providers, and contact with providers is often limited. Similarly under-developed are evidence-based tools to assist families in their efforts to support the recovery of their loved ones.

It is within this context that the development of a family member version of CAT is a very promising avenue to explore. While some elements of CAT require or are otherwise optimized by administration by a mental health professional (e.g., neuropsychological testing; targeting interventions based upon ongoing clinical evaluation), there are many standard components of CAT that can be readily implemented by a family member or other key support. Examples include CAT interventions such as visual reminders regarding medication, arranging cleaning supplies in the kitchen to reinforce cleaning routines, and assisting in the use of a calendar for scheduling. We have developed a tool that facilitates family members implementing CAT components that do not require professional administration.

The initial 'beta' version of Family CAT was developed in close collaboration between Dr. Velligan's team at the University of Texas, the group implementing CAT at the CAMH site led by Dr. Kidd, and CAMH Social Workers. This 'beta' version is currently in the process of having its content reviewed by 6 families to obtain feedback regarding how readily it can be understood. Based on this feedback, we will make edits and produce the final version to be used in the trial proposed in this protocol.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Treatment




Family Cognitive Adaptation Training


Centre for Addiction and Mental Health


Active, not recruiting


Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T04:00:40-0400

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The adjustment of the eye to variations in the intensity of light. Light adaptation is the adjustment of the eye when the light threshold is increased; DARK ADAPTATION when the light is greatly reduced. (From Cline et al., Dictionary of Visual Science, 4th ed)

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Changes in biological features that help an organism cope with its ENVIRONMENT. These changes include physiological (ADAPTATION, PHYSIOLOGICAL), phenotypic and genetic changes.

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