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Primary Care Psychotherapy Is Effective

A new study from the UK, a country where 66 percent of all physicians are primary care providers, reveals that brief therapy in this setting can effectively treat anxiety and depression.

Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Medicine also found that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) was effective for treating anxiety disorders, while CBT, problem solving therapy (PST) and counseling were all equally effective in treating depression and mixed anxiety and depression.

Currently one third of physicians in the U.S. are primary care specialists, defined as family practice, pediatrics and internal medicine specialties.

John Cape worked with a team of researchers from University College London to pool the results of 34 studies involving 3,962 patients.

He said, “Our meta-analysis suggests that brief CBT, counseling and PST were all effective in treating depression and mixed anxiety and depression. No significant difference was found between CBT, counseling and PST on metaregression, when controlling for diagnosis. But so far only brief CBT has been studied for treatment of anxiety disorders.”

Psychological therapy provided within primary care settings for depression and anxiety is usually brief. In the UK, for example, six sessions is a common treatment length.

The researchers found that such brief therapies are effective for routine delivery in primary care, but they caution that effect sizes are low when compared to patients receiving these treatments over a longer duration in secondary care.

Speaking about these results, Cape said, “While our study indicates that brief CBT appears to be particularly effective for anxiety disorders, there appears little to choose between brief CBT, counseling and PST for treatment of depression and mixed anxiety and depression.”

Source: BioMed Central

Primary Care Psychotherapy Is Effective

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Primary Care Psychotherapy Is Effective. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 16, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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