Cognitive function and food preparation ability in schizophrenia

Margaret M Knight, University of Rhode Island


Individuals with schizophrenia have cognitive deficits which interfere with their ability to function effectively in the community. Though the severity of the illness varies considerably, many are unable to manage basic daily activities. Researchers have identified attention, memory and executive function as key problematic cognitive deficits underlying individual functional performance. Yet, the degree to which these are imbedded in the performance of specific daily activities is unknown. ^ This pilot study explored and described individuals with schizophrenia and (1) the ability to perform a series of food preparation tasks ranging from simple to complex, (2) the strengths and problems which arose and the strategies used during the food preparation process, and (3) the cognitive capacities related to attention, memory and executive function among individuals with schizophrenia. Ten adults (7 men and 3 women; 4 Caucasians and 6 Afro-Americans) with schizophrenia living in the community and involved in day treatment or work programs participated in the study. The Continuous Performance Test, the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised and the Wisconsin Card Sort Test were used to test attention, memory and executive function. Participants also completed two food preparation activities, one simple (tuna sandwich) and one complex (macaroni and cheese). ^ Three distinct groups based on food preparation abilities were identified, successful, intermediate and unsuccessful. Successful individuals perceived a process and identified future steps in the process while completing tasks in the moment. This seemed to prevent problems from arising. Individuals in the intermediate group had difficulty solving many problems that arose in the process yet, verbal mediation seemed to allow individuals to maintain focus and complete tasks. The unsuccessful group could not complete many of the discrete tasks in the process and presented safety concerns. ^ These findings have implications for determining the levels of support needed in the community for individuals with schizophrenia. Further, future research evaluating the effectiveness of verbal mediation as a strategy to improve performance in everyday activities is indicated. Teaching this strategy to individuals with schizophrenia may enhance functional skills for some individuals. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Mental Health|Health Sciences, Nursing

Recommended Citation

Margaret M Knight, "Cognitive function and food preparation ability in schizophrenia" (2000). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9988223.