Deficits in social cognition are common in people with psychotic disorders and negatively impact functioning. Social Cognition Training (SCT) has been found to improve social cognition and functioning, but it is unknown which interventions are most effective, how characteristics of treatments and participants moderate efficacy, and whether improvements are durable. This meta-analysis included 46 randomized studies. SCTs were categorized according to their focus (targeted/broad-based) and inclusion of cognitive remediation therapy (CRT). Network meta-analysis was conducted, using both direct (original) and indirect (inferred from the network of comparisons) evidence. All SCT types were compared to treatment as usual (TAU; the chosen reference group). Moderators of outcome were investigated with meta-regression and long-term efficacy with multivariate meta-analysis. Compared to TAU, emotion perception was improved by targeted SCT without CRT (d = 0.68) and broad-based SCT without CRT (d = 0.46). Individual treatments worked better for emotion perception. All treatments significantly improved social perception (active control, d = 0.98, targeted SCT with and without CRT, d = 1.38 and d = 1.36, broad-based SCT with and without CRT, d = 1.45 and d = 1.35). Only broad-based SCT (d = 0.42) improved ToM. Broad-based SCT (d = 0.82 without and d = 0.41 with CRT) improved functioning; group treatments worked significantly better. Male gender was negatively related to effects on social functioning and psychiatric symptoms. At follow-up, a moderate effect on social functioning (d = 0.66) was found. No effect was found on attribution, social cognition (miscellaneous), and psychiatric symptoms. While targeted SCT is the most effective for emotion perception and social perception, broad-based SCT produces the best overall outcomes. CRT did not enhance SCT effects.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center.