Investigating the Cognitive Attentional Syndrome in psychosis

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Investigating the Cognitive Attentional Syndrome in psychosis: Associations with distress, quality of life and recovery.



  • Contact name

    Rachel Sellers

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    University of Manchester

  • Identifier

    14/NW/0043, This study is linked to a previous application.

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    0 years, 8 months, 1 days

  • Research summary

    Psychosis (e.g. diagnoses such as Schizophrenia) is a mental health problem affecting behaviour, thinking and perception, as well as a person's ability to socialise, work and carry out daily living tasks. Common symptoms include unusual beliefs (i.e. delusions) and hallucinations (e.g. hearing voices) that can be distressing to the individual experiencing them. This research is interested in whether the way people process information is related to distress.
    This research will investigate the application of an information processing model of psychopathology (the metacognitive model) to psychosis using cross-sectional data.

    Within this model special attention is given to the role of thinking styles and attention that constitute the Cognitive Attentional Syndrome (CAS). The CAS is an unhelpful style of thinking characterised by worry, rumination, monitoring for threat and unhelpful cognitive and behavioural coping strategies such as avoidance and thought suppression. These processes increase the detection and processing of threat related stimuli so that negative evaluations and emotions are strengthened and persist. The cognitive capacity required to maintain the CAS limits the capacity for feedback of information incompatible with unhelpful beliefs and reduces executive control of processing. Thus, the individual becomes inflexible in their thinking and attention. According to Wells and Matthews (1994) the CAS is a result of maladaptive metacognitive beliefs. Metacognitive beliefs reflect an individual’s beliefs regarding the usefulness of some cognitive enterprises (e.g. “worrying about danger will mean I’m always prepared”), and the danger or uncontrollability of others (e.g. “my thoughts will cause harm”).

    This study aims to provide the first exploration of CAS processing in clinical psychosis using the metacognitive model. It will recruit a sample of individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorder and conduct an assessment of psychotic symptoms using a semi-structured interview and an assessment of cognitive-attentional responses, quality of life and recovery using validated self-report questionnaires.

  • REC name

    North West - Greater Manchester East Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    7 Mar 2016

  • REC opinion

    Further Information Favourable Opinion