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Clin Psychol Psychother. 2017 Nov;24(6):O1474-O1484. doi: 10.1002/cpp.2108. Epub 2017 Jul 26.

An evaluation of the effectiveness of psychological therapy in reducing general psychological distress for adults with autism spectrum conditions and comorbid mental health problems.

Author information

1
National Adult ADHD and Autism Service, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.
2
Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College London, London, UK.
3
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience, London, UK.
4
Department of Psychology and Psychotherapy, Maudsley Hospital, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the effectiveness of psychological therapy in reducing psychological distress for adults with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) and co-morbid mental health conditions in routine clinical practice. To explore the effect of individual characteristics and service factors on change in general distress.

METHOD:

In a specialist psychological therapies service for adults with ASC, the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation-Outcome Measure (CORE-OM) self-report questionnaire of psychological distress is completed by clients at start and end of therapy. Change over time and reliable and clinical change was assessed for 81 of a total of 122 clients (66.4%). Factors which may influence change over time were explored using available clinical information.

RESULTS:

Overall, there was a significant reduction in CORE-OM score during therapy with a small effect size. Most clients showed an improvement in psychological distress over therapy (75.4% improved, with 36.9% of these showing reliable changes). Significant and comparable reductions from pre-therapy to post-therapy were seen across the sample, showing that individual differences did not mediate therapy effectiveness. CORE-OM scores mediate the association between age of ASD diagnosis and hours of therapeutic input required, with greater age at diagnosis and higher distress associated with longer therapy duration.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our preliminary findings suggest that psychological therapy may be effective in reducing general distress for clients with ASC and co-morbid mental health conditions and should be routinely offered. Individuals who are diagnosed with ASD in adulthood are likely to require a longer course of therapy when their general distress scores are high.

KEYWORDS:

CORE-OM; autism spectrum conditions; psychological therapy

PMID:
28748598
DOI:
10.1002/cpp.2108
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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