Implementation Intention Training Helps Prospective Memory in Schizophrenia

people sitting in a circle at group therapy
people sitting in a circle at group therapy
Implementation intentions may have lasting beneficial effects in prospective memory and significant transfer effects to functional capacity in people with schizophrenia.

Implementation intention training shows a greater prospective memory benefit at 3 months posttreatment than the standard treatment for people with schizophrenia, according to a study published in Schizophrenia Research.

Researchers analyzed the effect of implementation intention training on prospective memory posttreatment and at 3-month follow-up. People with schizophrenia were recruited from the general community in Beijing, China and randomly assigned to either the implementation intention arm (n=21) or the treatment as usual arm (n=21).

Implementation intention training consisted of 10 sessions of small group interventions including psycho-education, verbal components, imagery components, practice scenarios, and discussions on daily life successes and areas of improvement. The treatment as usual arm consisted of regular medication.

Prospective memory was assessed using computer tasks, a telephone challenge, and a memory questionnaire. Social functioning was assessed using the Beijing Performance-based Functional Ecological Test, the Personal and Social Performance scale, and the Schizophrenia Quality of Life Scale. Other measurements assessed clinical symptoms, intelligence quotient, and emotional status.

At baseline, the 2 arms were comparable in demographics, clinical variables, and performance results. After treatment, the implementation intention arm performed significantly better at computer event-based prospective memory tasks (=.008), computer time-based prospective memory tasks (=.031), the telephone challenge (=.04), and social functioning and capacity (total score, =.036; working sub-domain =.026) when compared with the treatment as usual arm.

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After the 3-month follow-up, the implementation intention arm performed significantly better at the event-based computer prospective memory task (P =.04) and at the telephone challenge (P =.042) when compared with the treatment as usual arm.

Participants with low baseline scores in prospective memory, intelligence quotient, and Personal and Social Performance functioning showed greater improvements posttreatment than those with higher baseline scores (<.001, =.031, =.008, respectively).

Future studies need to increase sample size and include an active control group.

The researchers concluded that “[implementation intention] training may be an effective intervention to improve [prospective memory] performance and functional capacity in patients with schizophrenia.”


Chen T, Liu LL, Cui JF, et al. Implementation intention training for prospective memory in schizophrenia: a 3-month follow-up study [published online October 23, 2018]. Schizophr Res. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2018.10.015