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Despite evidence for the general effectiveness of psychological therapies, there exists substantial heterogeneity in patient outcomes. We aimed to identify factors associated with baseline severity of depression and anxiety symptoms, rate of symptomatic change over the course of therapy, and symptomatic recovery in a primary mental health care setting.
Using data from a service evaluation involving 35 527 patients in England's psychological and wellbeing [Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)] services, we applied latent growth models to explore which routinely-collected sociodemographic, clinical, and therapeutic variables were associated with baseline symptom severity and rate of symptomatic change. We used a multilevel logit model to determine variables associated with symptomatic recovery.
Being female, younger, more functionally impaired, and more socioeconomically disadvantaged was associated with higher baseline severity of both depression and anxiety symptoms. Being older, less functionally impaired, and having more severe baseline symptomatology was associated with more rapid improvement of both depression and anxiety symptoms (male gender and greater socioeconomic disadvantage were further associated with rate of change for depression only). Therapy intensity and appointment frequency seemed to have no correlation with rate of symptomatic improvement. Patients with lower baseline symptom severity, less functional impairment, and older age had a greater likelihood of achieving symptomatic recovery (as defined by IAPT criteria).
We must continue to investigate how best to tailor psychotherapeutic interventions to fit patients’ needs. Patients who begin therapy with more severe depression and/or anxiety symptoms and poorer functioning merit special attention, as these characteristics may negatively impact recovery.
An increasing importance is being placed on mental health and wellbeing at individual and population levels. While there are several interventions that have been proposed to improve wellbeing, more evidence is needed to understand which aspects of wellbeing are most influential. This study aimed to identify key items that signal improvement of mental health and wellbeing.
Using network analysis, we identified the most central items in the graph network estimated from the well-established Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS). Results were compared across four major UK cohorts comprising a total of 47,578 individuals: the Neuroscience in Psychiatry Network, the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey, the Northern Ireland Health Survey, and the National Child Development Study.
Regardless of gender, the three items most central in the network were related to positive self-perception and mood: ‘I have been feeling good about myself’; ‘I have been feeling confident’; and ‘I have been feeling cheerful’. Results were consistent across all four cohorts.
Positive self-perception and positive mood are central to psychological wellbeing. Psychotherapeutic and public mental health interventions might best promote psychological wellbeing by prioritising the improvement of self-esteem, self-confidence and cheerfulness. However, empirical testing of interventions using these key targets is needed.
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