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Managing Unusual Sensory Experiences in People with First-Episode Psychosis (MUSE FEP): a study protocol for a single-blind parallel-group randomised controlled feasibility trial

Dudley, Robert and Dodgson, Guy and Common, Stephanie and O'Grady, Lucy and Watson, Florence and Gibbs, Christopher and Arnott, Bronia and Fernyhough, Charles and Alderson-Day, Ben and Ogundimu, Emmanuel and Kharatikoopaei, Ehsan and Patton, Victoria and Aynsworth, Charlotte (2022) 'Managing Unusual Sensory Experiences in People with First-Episode Psychosis (MUSE FEP): a study protocol for a single-blind parallel-group randomised controlled feasibility trial.', BMJ Open, 12 (5). e061827.


Introduction Hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that others do not) are a common feature of psychosis, causing significant distress and disability. Existing treatments such as cognitive–behavioural therapy for psychosis (CBTp) have modest benefits, and there is a lack of CBTp-trained staff. Shorter, targeted treatments that focus on specific symptoms delivered by a non-specialist workforce could substantially increase access to treatment. Managing Unusual Sensory Experiences (MUSE) explains why people have hallucinations and helps the person to develop and use coping strategies to reduce distress. MUSE focuses only on hallucinations, and treatment is short (four to six, 1-hour sessions per week). It is a digital intervention, run on National Health Service (NHS) laptops, which provides information about hallucinations in an engaging way, using audio, video and animated content. Crucially, it is designed for use by non-specialist staff like community psychiatric nurses. Methods and analysis The study is a two-arm feasibility randomised controlled trial comparing MUSE and treatment as usual (TAU) (n=40) to TAU alone (n=40), recruiting across two NHS Trusts, using 1:1 allocation and blind assessments before and after treatment (2 months) and at follow-up (3 months). Quantitative information on recruitment rates, adherence and completion of outcome assessments will be collected. Qualitative interviews will capture service users’ experience of therapy and clinicians’ experiences of the training and supervision in MUSE. Clinicians will also be asked about factors affecting uptake, adherence and facilitators/barriers to implementation. Analyses will focus on feasibility outcomes and provide initial estimates of intervention effects. Thematic analysis of the qualitative interviews will assess the acceptability of the training, intervention and trial procedures. Ethics and dissemination The trial has received NHS Ethical and Health Research Authority approval. Findings will be disseminated directly to participants and services, as well as through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

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Publisher statement:This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:
Date accepted:22 April 2022
Date deposited:17 May 2022
Date of first online publication:16 May 2022
Date first made open access:17 May 2022

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