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Keywords:

  • cognitive behaviour therapy;
  • coping behaviour;
  • hallucinations;
  • schizophrenia;
  • follow-up studies

Objective: To investigate the durability of positive effects of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) with coping training on psychotic symptoms and social functioning.

Method: Forty patients with schizophrenia or related psychotic disorders and refractory auditory hallucinations were given CBT and coping training in an integrated single family treatment programme. In a naturalistic study patients were followed after 2 and 4 years since the start of treatment.

Results: The treatment improved overall burden of ‘hearing voices’, with a generalization into daily functioning. Improvement with regard to fear, loss of control, disturbance of thought and interference with thinking was sustained by 60% of the patients while one-third improved further. Complete disappearance of hallucinations occurred in 18% of the patients.

Conclusion: CBT with coping training can improve both overall symptomatology and quality of life, even over longer periods of time, but a status of persistent disablement indicates a continuing need for mental health care.