Does the age of a patient affect the effectiveness of treatment? A new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) may not work as well with younger schizophrenia patients than with older ones.

Researchers used a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of CBT, supportive counseling, and treatment as usual in 309 schizophrenia patients. Outcomes were evaluated at three and eighteen-month followups, using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, the Psychotic Symptom Rating Scales, the Social Functioning Scale, and the Birchwood Insight Scale.

The younger patients responded better initially to supportive counselling than to CBT or treatment as usual, and were harder to engage in therapy; the older patients responded better to CBT although they didn’t show as much of an increase in insight as the younger patients after CBT. This suggests that age-related factors need to be taken into account when using psychological treatments.