Improving Access to Psychological Therapy: Initial Evaluation of Two UK Demonstration Sites

Improving Access to Psychological Therapy: Initial Evaluation of Two UK Demonstration Sites, Behaviour Research and Therapy, Online early view, 2009

David M. Clarka, , , Richard Layardb, Rachel Smithiesb, David A. Richardsc, Rupert Sucklingd and Benjamin Wrighte

NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust & Kings College London, UK

London School of Economics, London, UK

cUniversity of Exeter, UK

dDoncaster Primary Care Trust, UK

eEast London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK


Recently the UK Government announced an unprecedented, large-scale initiative for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) for depression and anxiety disorders. Prior to this development, the Department of Health established two pilot projects that aimed to collect valuable information to inform the national roll-out. Doncaster and Newham received additional funds to rapidly increase the availability of CBT-related interventions and to deploy them in new clinical services, operating on stepped-care principles, when appropriate. This article reports an evaluation of the new services (termed ‘demonstration sites’) during their first thirteen months of operation. A session-by-session outcome monitoring system achieved unusually high levels of pre to post-treatment data completeness. Large numbers of patients were treated, with low- intensity interventions (such as guided self-help) being particularly helpful for achieving high throughput. Clinical outcomes were broadly in line with expectation. 55-56% of patients who had attended at least twice (including the assessment interview) were classified as recovered when they left the services and 5% had improved their employment status. Treatment gains were largely maintained at 10 month follow-up. Opening the services to self-referral appeared to facilitate access for some groups that tend to be underrepresented in general practice referrals. Outcomes were comparable for the different ethnic groups who access the services. Issues for the further development of IAPT are discussed.

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