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Remembering the past to live better in the future: A feasibility randomised controlled trial of memory specificity training for motivation in psychosis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number101564
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Early online date21 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Feb 2020

King's Authors


Background and objectives: People with a diagnosis of psychosis often experience low motivation and reduced activity levels. Autobiographical memory deficits have been identified in people with psychosis and this may limit the role of memory retrieval in supporting motivation. This pilot study adapted a recently developed protocol, Memflex, which aims to enhance autobiographical memory and has shown promise in depression. Our brief intervention targets experiential negative symptoms of psychosis using supported autobiographical memory retrieval. Method: A sample of 31 participants with psychosis were recruited from inpatient and community settings and randomised in a 2:1 ratio to either a basic recall control or an enhanced recall intervention group. Participants were asked to generate positive autobiographical memories linked to activities they wish to repeat in the future. The enhanced recall condition received additional prompts from the Memflex protocol, and the basic recall condition received no additional support. Results: The intervention delivered was acceptable (rated >80%) and feasible (94% adherence) to those who took part. Participants were able to generate positive autobiographical memories linked to their goals and experienced appropriate emotions linked to these. The controlled preliminary effect sizes (0.2–0.34) showed encouraging signals for self-efficacy, motivation and a reduction in negative mood. Limitations: As this was a pilot study with a small sample size between-group tests of statistical significance were not conducted, and therefore findings should be interpreted with caution. Conclusions: These findings suggest that guided autobiographical memory retrieval may be an effective way tool for targeting motivation in people with psychosis.

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