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BMC Psychiatry. 2017 Jun 9;17(1):215. doi: 10.1186/s12888-017-1370-7.

The comparative effectiveness and efficiency of cognitive behaviour therapy and generic counselling in the treatment of depression: evidence from the 2nd UK National Audit of psychological therapies.

Author information

1
Research Office, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, BACP House, 15 St John's Business Park, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, LE174HB, UK. joanne.pybis@bacp.co.uk.
2
Centre for Psychological Services Research, ScHARR, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
3
Research Office, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, BACP House, 15 St John's Business Park, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, LE174HB, UK.
4
Centre for Psychological Services Research, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is the front-line psychological intervention for step 3 within UK psychological therapy services. Counselling is recommended only when other interventions have failed and its effectiveness has been questioned.

METHOD:

A secondary data analysis was conducted of data collected from 33,243 patients across 103 Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services as part of the second round of the National Audit of Psychological Therapies (NAPT). Initial analysis considered levels of pre-post therapy effect sizes (ESs) and reliable improvement (RI) and reliable and clinically significant improvement (RCSI). Multilevel modelling was used to model predictors of outcome, namely patient pre-post change on PHQ-9 scores at last therapy session.

RESULTS:

Counselling received more referrals from patients experiencing moderate to severe depression than CBT. For patients scoring above the clinical cut-off on the PHQ-9 at intake, the pre-post ES (95% CI) for CBT was 1.59 (1.58, 1.62) with 46.6% making RCSI criteria and for counselling the pre-post ES was 1.55 (1.52, 1.59) with 44.3% of patients meeting RCSI criteria. Multilevel modelling revealed a significant site effect of 1.8%, while therapy type was not a predictor of outcome. A significant interaction was found between the number of sessions attended and therapy type, with patients attending fewer sessions on average for counselling [M = 7.5 (5.54) sessions and a median (IQR) of 6 (3-10)] than CBT [M = 8.9 (6.34) sessions and a median (IQR) of 7 (4-12)]. Only where patients had 18 or 20 sessions was CBT significantly more effective than counselling, with recovery rates (95% CIs) of 62.2% (57.1, 66.9) and 62.4% (56.5, 68.0) respectively, compared with 44.4% (32.7, 56.6) and 42.6% (30.0, 55.9) for counselling. Counselling was significantly more effective at two sessions with a recovery rate of 34.9% (31.9, 37.9) compared with 22.2% (20.5, 24.0) for CBT.

CONCLUSIONS:

Outcomes for counselling and CBT in the treatment of depression were comparable. Research efforts should focus on factors other than therapy type that may influence outcomes, namely the inherent variability between services, and adopt multilevel modelling as the given analytic approach in order to capture the naturally nested nature of the implementation and delivery of psychological therapies. It is of concern that half of all patients, regardless of type of intervention, did not show reliable improvement.

KEYWORDS:

CBT; Counselling; Depression; Effectiveness; Efficiency; Psychological therapy

PMID:
28599621
PMCID:
PMC5466727
DOI:
10.1186/s12888-017-1370-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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