A new study hopes to inform policymakers on the benefits of improving access to psychological therapy for individuals experiencing depression and anxiety.
The UK investigation reviewed the effectiveness of an ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)’ program in a group of patients referred for treatment for depression or anxiety under Doncaster Primary Care Trust.
The results are published in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology.
A total of 3,994 patients were referred for treatment during the 12 months from August 2006, and 2,795 went on to receive one or more appointments through a stepped-care collaborative approach.
Most of the patients received low intensity cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Their progress was closely monitored and those who needed it were quickly stepped up from low to high intensity treatment.
The clinical levels of depression (measured using the PHQ-9) and anxiety (measured using the GAD-7) of the 2,017 patients who had come to the end of their treatment by the census date, was measured at each contact, and these results were analyzed by Professor David Richards of Exeter University.
By the end of the census, 76 percent of depression sufferers who completed treatment were either in recovery or remission, as were 74 percent of the anxiety sufferers.
For all patients, (including those who dropped out of treatment), these figures were 61 percent (depression) and 62 percent (anxiety).
The average duration of treatment sessions was just 2 hours 45 minutes; most patients received low intensity CBT – the majority of which was carried out over the telephone – however, one-third of patients also received support for antidepressant medication.
Professor David Richards said: “The combination of psychological treatment and low intensity telephone based delivery produced significant clinical results for the depression and anxiety sufferers in the program.
“Although follow-up data on these patients will be important to investigate the lasting effects of the treatment, our results tell us that delivering psychological therapy in the method used in the program is an effective way to give depression and anxiety sufferers the psychological help they need.”
The National Advisor for Primary Care to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, Alan Cohen, said:
“Following the success of the Doncaster demonstration site, IAPT has gone from strength to strength. This month we expand to 115 IAPT sites around the country with over 2,200 people working in services, including over 800 people who have undertaken the IAPT training programme. 73,000 patients have entered services, 26,000 of which have completed treatment and recovery rates are well over 30 per cent and rising all the time.”
Source: British Psychological Society