Patients with schizophrenia have deficits in social cognition (SC), a construct that includes emotion perception (EP), social perception (SP), theory of mind (ToM) and attributive style (AS). The aim of our study was to assess the applicability, identify potential problems and obtain preliminary data on the efficacy of a new online training program on SC called e-Motional Training (ET®), which can be remotely administered and remotely supervised by a clinician.
Materials and methods
A pre/post intervention pilot study was conducted with 21 patients with schizophrenia in the healthcare area of Ourense, Spain (12 patients were assigned to the intervention group and 9 in the control group). The control group received standard treatment (TAU) (occupational therapy and leisure group). The intervention group received TAU plus 12 sessions (1 hour per week) with ET® (including training modules on emotional perception and a short animated cartoon for ToM and AS training, including automated metacognitive feedback).
Endpoints: EP (Ekman 60 Faces Test), ToM (Hinting Task, Faux Pas, Happé), AS (Ambiguous Intentions Hostility Questionnaire).
ET® was shown to be an understandable, viable and pleasant program for the participants. After the intervention, statistically significant data (p < 0.05) were obtained for the EP, ToM and AS variables.
ET® enables self-training in SC and online follow-up by the therapist, thereby covering the lack of online intervention instruments validated for patients with SC deficits. Our preliminary results demonstrate the feasibility of ET® and its possible efficacy in improving emotion recognition, ToM and AS.
Social cognition; Schizophrenia; Computerized training; Cognitive remediation; Theory of mind