Aktuelle Neurologie 2007; 34 - P467
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-987738

Therapy of non-organic memory disorder

K Schmidtke 1, B Metternich 1, M Hüll 1
  • 1Freiburg

Background: The syndrome of Functional Memory Disorder (FMD, i.e. impairment of memory in the absence of a recognisable organic cause) is regularly seen in memory clinic patients. FMD is understood as an acquired disorder that is caused by chronic psychosocial stress and related to the group of somatisation disorders (but not to dissociative amnesic states). FMD can have serious negative impact on daily function and thus constitute a secondary stress factor that drives a “vicious circle“ of stress, cognitive impairment und underperformance. As yet, there is no structured therapy for this condition. We defined a new group therapy for FMD and performed a randomized controlled trial with a follow-up period of six months.

Methods: 40 FMD patients were randomly assigned to either the experimental (EG) or a wait-list control group (WLC). The 13-week intervention consisted of psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, stress management strategies, relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises, and was designed to increase patients' memory self-efficacy. Data were collected at baseline, immediately after the intervention (three months) and at follow-up (three months after the intervention) on the Metamemory in Adulthood questionnaire (MIA), the Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ) and the Symptom Check List SCL-90-R.

Results: Compared with the WLC, the EG showed a significantly higher improvement on the primary outcome at follow-up (memory self-efficacy, effect size 0.88 SD). There was also a reduction of memory-related achievement motivation at three months (MIA-achievement, 0.95 SD, p<0,05) and six months (0.56 SD, not signif.). Perceived stress levels did not change.

Conclusions: The FMD therapy program was effective in reducing functional memory complaints.