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Schizophrenia Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 815315, 15 pages
Review Article

Neurocognitive and Social Cognitive Approaches for Improving Functional Outcome in Early Psychosis: Theoretical Considerations and Current State of Evidence

1Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Department of Psychiatry, National Neuroscience Facility, The University of Melbourne, Level 2-3 Alan Gilbert Building, 161 Barry Street, Carlton South, VIC 3053, Australia
2Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Locked Bag 10, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia

Received 15 October 2011; Accepted 25 January 2012

Academic Editor: César González-Blanch

Copyright © 2012 Cali F. Bartholomeusz and Kelly Allott. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Improving functional outcome, in addition to alleviating psychotic symptoms, is now a major treatment objective in schizophrenia research. Given the large body of evidence suggesting pharmacological treatments generally have minimal effects on indices of functioning, research has turned to psychosocial rehabilitation programs. Among these, neurocognitive and social cognitive interventions are at the forefront of this field and are argued to target core deficits inherent to the schizophrenia illness. However, to date, research trials have primarily focused on chronic schizophrenia populations, neglecting the early psychosis groups who are often as severely impaired in social and occupational functioning. This theoretical paper will outline the rationale for investigating adjunctive cognitive-based interventions in the early phases of psychotic illness, critically examine the current approach strategies used in these interventions, and assess the evidence supporting certain training programs for improving functional outcome in early psychosis. Potential pathways for future research will be discussed.