(HealthDay News) – Group art therapy does not improve the mental health or social functioning of patients with schizophrenia, according to a study published online Feb. 28 in BMJ.

Mike J. Crawford, MD, of the Imperial College London, and colleagues randomized 417 people (aged ≥18 years) with a diagnosis of schizophrenia to either 12 months of weekly group art therapy plus standard care, 12 months of weekly activity groups plus standard care, or standard care alone. Art therapy and activity groups included up to eight members and lasted for 90 minutes. The activity group’s activities did not involve art or craft materials. Global functioning was assessed 24 months after randomization using the global assessment of functioning scale, and mental health symptoms were measured using the positive and negative syndrome scale.

The researchers found that, after 24 months, the outcomes did not differ between the three study arms. At 24 months, the adjusted mean difference between art therapy and standard care on the global assessment of functioning scale was −0.9, and on the positive and negative syndrome scale was 0.7. No difference was observed for secondary outcomes between those referred to art therapy or those referred to standard care at 12 or 24 months.

“Referring people with established schizophrenia to group art therapy as delivered in this trial did not improve global functioning, mental health, or other health-related outcomes,” the authors write.

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