Friday, 10 October 2014

World Mental Health Day - researching our treatment

To mark World Mental Health Day Laura Rhodes, Mental Health Practitioner, blogs about her work in the Trust’s Primary Care Mental Health IAPT Partnership (Leeds IAPT) service. You can see more about them on our website.

I’ve worked for Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust in the Primary Care mental Health and IAPT Service for six years. Two thirds of my working week is spent as a Mental Health Practitioner, seeing patients for treatment, and the other third of my working week is spent as a Research Practitioner. For World Mental Health week I’m blogging about what I’ve been up to in my research role.

So today, amongst other things, I’ve been busy with recruitment calls.  One study I’ve been recruiting for today is the Coping with Depression study. This study was set up to find out whether the coping style (i.e. our typical ways of managing difficulties in life) affects how well depressed people respond to psychological therapy. We wonder if patients with a particular coping style might respond less well to treatment. If this is the case, it is important to know, and the next logical step would be to identify how we might adapt psychological therapies to make it work better for these patients.

Every week we identify patients who have symptoms of clinical depression and are waiting for ‘high-intensity’ psychological therapies. We send information about the study to these patients and contact them by telephone a week later to see if they are interested in being involved in the study. I made a number of calls yesterday and was able to recruit three new participants to the study. The participants are asked to complete some questionnaires about their typical coping responses during times of adversity before they start therapy.

In the evening I went to Yorkshire Dance in Leeds City Centre to help deliver a pre-therapy training seminar aimed at preparing patients for guided self-help CBT treatment; educating them about how to make the most of treatment.

This seminar was set up earlier this year by my colleague, Martin Groom, and I. There is already some evidence that pre-therapy training helps improve outcomes for traditional psychological therapies. But because the seminar is new for our service, and we weren’t aware of any studies trialling the acceptability and effectiveness of pre-therapy training for guided self-help CBT treatment, it was essential to evaluate whether it actually benefits patients, and is therefore worth continuing with. We are evaluating this seminar in two ways:

  1. To establish the acceptability of the seminar to patients. We do this by asking them to complete feedback questionnaires to rate how relevant, how well-delivered, etc. they found the seminar. We compile a feedback report for each seminar, and ratings have been consistently high so we have confidence that the seminars are acceptable.
  2. To see whether patients who attended the seminar have improved treatment outcomes compared to a random sample of patients who, earlier this year, were not invited to the seminar. We hope to have the results available for this part of the evaluation ready in the next couple of months.

I always really enjoy doing the seminars and you get a real sense that the seminar helps to enthuse people not only for their treatment sessions, but also to start having a go at using some of the CBT self-help ideas and techniques we talk about in the seminar, to take some steps towards recovery before their treatment sessions even start. 

I finished work at 7.45pm, having started at 8.30am, which makes for a fairly long day!  I’ll be back refreshed for more research work tomorrow.

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