Author(s): Kisely SR, Jones J
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: As in Australia, demand for psychotherapy is rising in Britain, and the wide variety of psychological treatments available within the National Health Service (NHS), the independent sector, and voluntary agencies leads to uncertainty about which patients are most suitable for which type of psychotherapy, as well as the appropriate balance between psychological and pharmacological interventions. This paper describes how Birmingham Health Authority (HA), the largest HA in England and Wales with a population of just under one million, developed and implemented an evidence-based strategy for the use of psychotherapy services. METHOD: A literature search and health needs assessment for psychotherapy in Birmingham was performed. RESULTS: It was possible to estimate the need for evidence-based psychotherapy services using routinely available epidemiological data. By matching specific techniques to individual diagnosis and estimating the size of the population for whom this was appropriate, demand for psychotherapy exceeded service provision by a factor of four. CONCLUSIONS: The following steps were undertaken: (i) setting priorities for the commissioning of psychotherapy on the basis of the scientific literature including greater use of brief and focused forms of integrative therapy from a variety of psychotherapeutic schools; (ii) targeting interventions on the basis of objective criteria to ensure that patients were referred for the appropriate level and intensity of psychological intervention using the full range of available services within the NHS, the independent sector, and voluntary agencies; (iii) agreeing on an integrated treatment algorithm (ITA) for the use of the most cost-effective treatments while ensuring that a range of alternative interventions was available for patients for whom a first line therapy was not suitable. Such an ITA could be adapted to assist general practitioners in their management and referral decisions; (iv) sharing skills between specialist psychotherapy services and members of primary and mental health teams through training, supervision and consultation-liaison.
This article was published in Aust N Z J Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology & Mental Health