With no independent body assessing caring and effectiveness. It has been achieved by IAPT (the former brand name of the service) and BABCP (British Association of of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies) working under the radar. Their curious tango has prevented the delivery of evidence-based psychological therapy in routine practice. They dance for politicians, the Department of Health and Integrated Care Boards (the successors to Clinical Commissioning Groups).
The public face of NHS Talking Therapy and BABCP and their synergy can be seen in an advertised two day BABCP workshop for social anxiety disorder. To be led by Professor David Clark,NHS England’s National Clinical and Informatics Advisor for the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. He and Lord Layard were the prime movers in the development of IAPT.
In advertising the Workshop Professor Clark describes very well an evidence based protocol for treating social anxiety disorder. But there is no evidence any such protocol has has ever been delivered in IAPT. The service has never performed integrity checks for this or any disorder. My own finding Scott (2018) is that only the tip of the iceberg of the Services clients recover in the sense of losing their diagnostic status. NHS Talking Therapies claims to deliver NICE treatment protocols and achieve a 50% recovery rate are self-serving claims, wholly without independent evidence.
The recommended protocol is based on a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder and as the IAPT Manual points out, its clinicians do not make diagnosis and 40% of them are not trained therapists. Both NHS Talking therapy and BABCP have shown no interest in what happens at the coalface, they operate like totalitarian Communist regimes concerned with ideology, operational matters production quotas, waiting times etc. Like the KGB and Stasi they are superb at working under the radar (see the book Putin’s People) and networking but leaving clients to disappear down a black hole, with almost half of clients not even beginning treatment.
CBT Today is the Official Magazine of the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapy, the supposed lead organisation for CBT. But today it is a vendor for cheap and easy solutions to human difficulties. This sits comfortably with its’ friends in high places, politicians and the media. The funds flow, almost £2billion a year for IAPT adult, children and young people services. With £988.0m the projected spend on children and young people in 2022/23. But no independent valuation of whether either service is value for money. This would beggar belief at any time, but in these days of financial stringency it has to be insanity, corruption or some combination thereof.
In the December issue of CBT Today Dr Adrian Whittington the new Clinical Lead for Psychological Professions at NHS England and Health Education England, states the IAPT services ‘have lived up to the assumptions that showed they would save money overall for the public purse’ p 10. But the article fails to state that he is also the IAPT National Clinical Advisor: Education clearly vested interests are at work. The null hypothesis for any service, including IAPT, is that it costs something. A null hypothesis, is assumed to be true, unless contradictory evidence is provided. But Dr Whittington and the IAPT powerholders have provided no refutation of the null hypothesis. My own findings confirm the null hypothesis, see previous blog .
Dr Whittington (2022) continues ‘we need to support a a psychological approach as the norm for major health conditions. We know that these developments can support people to adjust and manage long term conditions more effectively, reducing unwarranted medical consultations’. A further null hypothesis is that psychological therapy makes no difference to the management of these conditions. Again the burden of proof is with those who would rebut the null hypothesis. Who is it that judges that there are ‘unwarranted medical consultations’? What is the world view of a person who sees many consultations for long term conditions as unwarranted?
Dr Whittington (2022) lauds it that the expansion of the Adult IAPT service is being mirrored in the provision of services for children and young people in the form of Mental Health Support Teams in school and colleges.. But there has been no audit of the Service for children and young people at all.The smoke and mirrors continue.
In the same issue of CBT today Dr Claire Willis declares ‘a small to moderate effect’ for a transdiagnostic approach to persistent physical symptoms in a trial in which she was a therapist. She enjoins that the same approach should be used with Long Covid. No matter that the protocol was evaluated by those who developed the protocols. These authors engaged in a fishing expedition to find any positive findings, administer enough measures something will urn up positive by chance. The spurious claims for the study Dr Willis were rebutted in an earlier blog of mine.
When it is not using the latest evidence. An article in the Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, much lauded by the Editor of the Journal, highlights this. There was no review of the latest group CBT for PTSD outcome studies see Scott (2022) Personalising Trauma Treatment: Reframing and Reimagining London: Routledge. Instead the authors relied upon the conflicted, dated, recommendations of guideline producers. Guidelines are produced by Committee decisions with all the vagaries that entails, they are not the results of a systematic analysis of data. My book includes a review of group CBT outcome studies for PTSD (reproduced at the end of this blog), indicating the inferiority of a group approach.
In this study of group CBT for PTSD, the results of 3, 8 session (2hrs per session) group programmes are summarised by the treating IAPT workers. But no standardised diagnostic interview was used at any point, so it is unknown what proportion of people lost their diagnostic status for how long. Nor whether they were truly suffering from PTSD in the first place, making independent replication impossible. It is claimed that the treatment was given to those who ‘preferred’ group therapy but this is disingenuous. In practice people are offered more immediate treatment with a group or a long wait for individual therapy, whilst they may opt for the former, it is not a preference.
8 is The New Magic Number
The tail is wagging the dog, in that the authors have fitted in with the growing fetish for 8 sessions. Those who complete IAPT treatment typically have 7.5 sessions. Further NICE recommend, 8 group CBT therapy sessions for depression as the first line treatment for depression. But there is no empirical evidence that 8 sessions of anything makes a real-world difference. It is simply what the powers that be have decided to ration out. There is no indication of the mechanism of action of 8 sessions. If it is not possible to specify how a claimed result is achieved then the latter is suspect. BABCP has just celebrated its 50th birthday by a return to magic.
Groups are an attractive option for service providers, offering the prospect of reduced waiting lists and greater access to therapy. But comparisons of group interventions show them to be inferior to individual therapy post-trauma and to offer no added benefit to treatment as usual. Kearney et al. (2021) compared the effectiveness of group cognitive processing therapy (CPT) for the treatment of PTSD with group loving-kindness meditation (LKM) which involved the silent repetition of phrases intended to elicit feelings of kindness for oneself and others. The proportion of veterans who lost their diagnostic status i.e. who no longer suffered from PTSD did not differ at the end of treatment (CPT – 29%, LKM – 27.5%). Each intervention consisted of 12 weekly 90-minute group sessions but the mean number sessions completed was only six in CPT and seven in LKM. Resick et al. (2017) found that in a population of veterans group CPT was inferior to individual CPT. Preparatory group treatment for CPT or prolonged exposure does not enhance outcome. Dedert et al. (2020) examined whether a preparatory group with a focus on psychoeducation, coping skills, sleep hygiene and an introduction to PTSD treatment options added benefit to the trauma-focussed interventions, it did not. Further, those who went through a preparatory group did less well than those who did not in whatever trauma-focussed CBT they went onto in terms of PTSD symptom reduction. There is no evidence that initial Stabilisation Groups contribute to treatment effectiveness. However, the aforementioned studies were all on veterans, so care has to be taken in generalising from the results. But a study by Mahoney et al. (2020) of women prisoners who reported a history of interpersonal violence and trauma found that a ten-session group psychoeducational programme, Survive and Thrive, conferred no benefit over treatment as usual.
There appears to be no benefit to a phase-based approach, in which the first phase has as its goal safety and stabilisation, despite the inherent attractiveness of this option.
Scott, Michael J. Personalising Trauma Treatment (p. 293). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
despite the fact that the main provider of psychological services, the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Service is ‘An Abject Failure’ https://www.madinamerica.com/2022/06/uk-iapt-abject-failure/. It is all about cost, with no regard for evidence. It is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (June 29th) that clients are offered 11 possible interventions for depression, presenting the least costly first, guided self-help, group cognitive behavioural therapy (8 sessions) progressing up to the 11th option, short term psychodynamic psychotherapy. With Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) providing the assessment and the least costly interventions. But PWPs are not trained therapists and the IAPT Manual states that its’ employees do not make diagnoses and they are not trained to diagnose. Yet bizarrely NICE states that assessors must be competent to make a reliable assessment of depression! A pig’s ear of monumental proportions.
There is no empirical evidence that 8 sessions of group CBT delivered by PWPs makes a real world difference to client’s lives as assessed by a blind assessor. Nor that the recommended 8 sessions of individual CBT for depression, presumably delivered by a high intensity therapists, constitutes a therapeutic dose of treatment.
The revision of the Draft Nice Guidance on Depression https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng222 now recommends a stepped care approach to depression and sees Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners as contributing to treatment. This has brought a ‘hurrah’ from BABCP (British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy), as it is exactly what they lobbied for https://babcp.com/About/News-Press/Revised-NICE-Guideline-on-Depression-in-Adults post the Draft guidelines. Dr Andrew Beck the BABCP President proclaims in the press release ‘the guidedInes highlight the amazing value of PWPs’. In addition antidepressants and CBT in combination are seen as the treatment choice for severe depression.
But these recommendations and changes are eminence-based not evidence-based. A paper published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research last year by Bartova et al (2021) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.06.028 showed a 25% response rate for those who had antidepressants and manual-driven psychotherapy (mostly CBT), no better than antidepressants alone. This compares with a 31% response rate in those given a placebo Rutherford and Roose (2013) https://doi.org/10.1176%2Fappi.ajp.2012.12040474
Before BABCP issued the press release, I raised the following issues with its’ author Professor Reynolds:
I can find no randomised control trials of low intensity interventions that are methodologically robust enough to lead to the conclusion that such interventions should be the initial treatment of choice for less severe depression.
I can find no evidence that as a result of stepped care, the trajectory of clients with depression Is meaningfully better than if they were not treated in a stepped care model.
There was criticism of the initial draft for the ‘marginalising and undervaluing of PWPS’. However, it appears that under pressure from BABCP, PWPS are now to be lauded. But there is an absence of evidence of what PWP treatment works for whom and in what circumstances. As such their interventions are not evidence- based. Further they are not psychological therapists.
NICE have apparently indicated that the IAPT database may be used to inform the next set of guidelines. But this database tells us nothing of the course of any client’s disorder as the service does not make diagnoses or engage in long-term follow up.
I asked that my dissent from BABCPs press release be publicly noted, and was told simply that it would be passed to the BABCP Board. At the same time the comments of IAPTs lead, Professor Clark. on the importance of including relapse prevention in treatments, would be included in the press release and it was. An in-group clearly operates. I am reminded that when I submitted an article to the BABCP comic, CBT Today on IAPT, the article was rejected not by the editor but by the past (Prof Salkovskis) and current (Dr Andrew Beck) Presidents of BABCP. The matter was never addressed by the Board despite an assurance from Dr Beck. If ever there was a clique. Unholy alliances rule.
Evidence-based psychological therapies are near extinction. Their demise began in 2008 with the inception of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service. Aided and abetted by the British Psychological Society’s validation of IAPT’s Psychological Well-being Practitioner’s (PWPs) training programmes and the service’s fellow traveller, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP). Gone is the welcoming open door and the careful distillation of what ails the client, instead there is a 30 minute+ telephone conversation, with a third of people then not going beyond one treatment appointment.
The public most commonly receive PWP ministrations when they seek NHS psychological help. But the PWP’s do not follow any treatment protocol for any disorder, indeed they do not make diagnoses. How then can they be said to deliver CBT? By the spurious claim that they can select a CBT strategy which is sufficiently potent. But they furnish no evidence of systematically following any strategy, notwithstanding that there is no evidence that CBT strategies delivered as stand alone interventions make any real world difference. The PWP’s deliver the Alice in Wonderland, Dodo verdict on CBT strategies ‘all are equal and must have prizes’. Raising the question ‘is CBT as dead as the Dodo?’
Where else might CBT be found? It is not impossible for it to be delivered in IAPT’s high intensity service, but few of its practitioners conduct a reliable standardised diagnostic interview which is the foundation for delivering CBT. The treatment integrity of high intensity CBT interventions has never been assessed. No steps have ever been taken to ensure clinicians are dovetailing diagnosis appropriate treatment targets with matching treatment strategies. Is CBT to be found in private practice? It is possible, but private organisations have largely sought to ape IAPT in the mistaken belief that this confers credibility. Are the chances of finding CBT in private practice comparable to finding life on Mars?
Is CBT alive and kicking in secondary care? Here we enter the muddy waters of clients who might traditionally be regarded as having personality disorders (PD). But there is an understandable reluctance to use the term PD because of the associated stigma and because historically use of such a term has consigned people to the dustbin. Nevertheless Sperry and Sperry (2016) have produced the 3rd Edition of CBT for DSM-5 Personality Disorders (Routledge) but it is eminence-based rather than evidence-based. It is light on outcome studies. I struggled to find any where there was independent assessment of outcome by blind raters, use of an outcome measure that clients would regard as a minimally important difference and evaluations by those other than the creators of the protocols. It is a free for all with strategies such as ‘thought stopping’ recommended, without specification of any contraindications such as PTSD or OCD. Only eclipsed by recommending solution focussed therapy for anxiety. If clinicians in secondary care operate on this text it is very different to Beck’s own work on CBT for personality disorders. But no typology of what clinicians say they do and what they actually do in secondary care has been produced. Tertiary care seems preoccupied with crisis management and is not guided by any recognisable CBT protocol.
In neither primary or secondary care is there a differentiation of treatments or clients. Thus in the UK it is impossible to answer the question of ‘What Works With Whom?’. This leaves clinicians up a creek without a paddle.
Dinosaurs may have been wiped out by an asteroid hitting the earth 66 million years ago, but life survived, doubtless CBT will survive the impact of IAPT, but it is a close call and it is likely going to be down to individual practitioners doing what they know to be best for their clients.
Under a heading ‘Long-Covid: interventions not proven’ the May issue of The Psychologist publishes a letter (see below) I wrote with Joan Crawford. The same issue contains an interview with Jo Daniels, the newly appointed Chair of the Scientific Committee of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP) outlining her mission to apply CBT to all long-term conditions (LTC). This despite a paucity of evidence that CBT protocols matched to a specific LTC make any unique contribution. She proclaims “It is now commonly accepted that CBT ‘works’ to a greater or lesser extent for most physical health conditions”, this is grist to the mill for the expansionism of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service. But contrary voices do not get a hearing in BABCP, echoes of Russia.
‘The underlying message of Dr Siddaway’s article ”We need to talk about Long-Covid” in the March 2022 issue of the Psychologist is that there is or will be an added value from psychological intervention for those affected by Long-Covid i.e Covid of more than 3 months duration. But the Scottish verdict ‘not-proven’ seems appropriate.
There can be no doubt that offering emotional support to people like Grace, cited in the article, is an important resource for anyone suffering from a long-term medical condition. But there is a distinction between the provision of emotional support (travelling alongside) and delivering a psychological intervention (fixing). The latter is inevitably more costly, requiring more highly trained staff and therefore less likely to be available. Is it a proper use of scarce psychological resources to offer psychological treatments to those with Long-Covid?
Clearly if a person with Long-Covid suffers from an additional disorder such as PTSD or depression a case can be readily made for addressing the comorbid disorder. But the effectiveness of this treatment, in such circumstances, remains to be demonstrated. There are no randomised controlled trials of the psychological treatments of Long Covid plus or minus comorbid disorders. Thus, the evidence for the efficacy of treatment must be currently regarded as weak.
Siddaway suggests that it is possible to extrapolate from studies of chronic fatigue syndrome and pain and apply the strategies to Long-Covid. But there are significant problems with this: a) it assumes Long-Covid is in the same domain as CFS and pain, but arguably, there is little evidence that this is a homogenous category b) the evidence base for the efficacy of psychological treatment for CFS Is problematic if objective indices of outcome are insisted upon c) the evidence base for psychological treatments for CFS and pain, such as it is, is for protocols and not for the components of the interventions, such as pacing or distraction. Using strategies out of context is problematic.
Siddaway appeals to a biopsychosocial model to justify psychological intervention for Long- Covid, despite any evidence that mood and coping strategies make a significant difference to the physical symptoms of Long-Covid. The proposed model ” the complexity of Long-Covid” is not capable of falsification, any factor e.g a hostile working environment, could be proposed to be pivotal in the development of Long Covid, but not ruled out. As such it is not a model.
It serves the interests of the powerholders of psychological therapies to transmute the physical disorders into candidates for psychological intervention. An extending of Empires. This is not to say that psychological intervention may not sometimes be helpful in the context of a long-term medical condition but unless the population is clearly specified clients will be failed by inappropriate treatments and services exhausted.
A year ago the British Journal of Clinical Psychology published my paper ‘Ensuring that the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme does what it says on the tin’ 60(1), 38. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjc.12264. This month in the Journal there is a further damning indictment by Martin et al (2022) ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) has potential but is not sufficient: How can it better meet the range of primary care mental health needs?’ 61, 157–174, DOI:10.1111/bjc.12314.
Here are the main points from Martin et als’ BJCP paper:
Improving Access to Psychological Therapies(IAPT)has significantly increased access to psychological therapies within primary care over the last decade, though it is unclear whether its interventions are sufficiently tailored to meet the actual levels of complexity of its clientele and prevent them from needing onward referral to secondary care as originally envisaged.
Given the ongoing focus on and investment in IAPT informed developments into long-term conditions and serious mental illness, this review considers whether additional elucidation of the model’s original objectives is required, as a precursor to its expansion into other clinical areas.
There view indicates that there is a stark lack of data pertaining to the generalisable, real-world clinical benefits of the IAPT programme as it currently stands.
Recommendations are provided for future areas of research, and practice enhancements to ensure the value of IAPT services to clients in the wider context of NHS mental health services, including the interface with secondary care, are considered.
The British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) ought to look seriously at the promotion of its’ IAPT comic ‘CBT Today’. Interestingly in its’ recent issue it managed to omit that I was one of those who made a submission re: the proposed NICE Guidance on depression. Further, only one of the others who made submissions were given their adjectival title, the leading light in IAPT. The British Psychological Society (BPS) should reconsider its validation of low intensity IAPT courses, in the absence of any credible evidence base on real-world effectiveness.
this is a speciality of Government provided services. Studies of the natural history of depression and the anxiety disorders insist on using evidence of enduring freedom from the disorders of 8-12weeks [Bruce et al 2005https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.162.6.1179 and Penninx et al (2011) doi:10.1016/j.jad.2011.03.027] as evidence of remission, distinguishing the latter from a new episode of the disorder. This reflects the general public’s understanding of having a disorder or not having a disorder. But inspection of the Government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) service reveals no such clarity. Instead funders of services and clients are invited to believe that the latter endorsing a below 10 score on the PHQ9, over the previous two weeks, is evidence of appropriate treatment. Further the scoring is discussed with the therapist, usually resulting in an exit from the Service when this promised land is reached. But it is entirely a mirage, that suits IAPT’s need to secure funding. The narrow interest of the Service is put above the public good.
IAPT’s metric ignores the complexity of presentations, client’s may present with depression an anxiety disorder or a combination of the two, each follows their own trajectory [Penninx et al (2011) doi:10.1016/j.jad.2011.03.027]. But there is no reliable identification of who is on what pathway, as IAPT clinicians do not make diagnoses [IAPT Manual (2019)]. It is therefore impossible to match treatment to diagnosis. Further IAPT takes no steps to ensure treatment fidelity i.e the matching of a treatment strategy to a target.
The mnemonic PICOT has been used by NHS England and NICE to help determine evidence based treatment. The P stands for population or the problem being addressed. IAPT’s gateway criteria for disorders are scores over 10 on the PHQ9 or over 8 on the GAD7. But what does this tell us about this population? Are they suffering from depression and/or an anxiety disorder? which anxiety disorder? Can there be any certainty that they are not suffering from an adjustment disorder or possibly PTSD? In what way would this population differ from another population that they might resemble? The ‘P’ of the PICOT in IAPT is so fuzzy that it sabotages any pretence by the service to deliver an evidence based treatment (EBT). IAPT has no fidelity checks, making it impossible to specify the I. IAPT has never attempted to compare its’ service effects with effects of pre-IAPT counselling, thus it has never attempted C a comparison, making it impossible to state the ‘added value’ of its ministrations. IAPT has declared its’ own outcome of interest and measured in its presence, it is not a primary outcome used in any randomised controlled for depression and the anxiety disorders. The selected outcome measure is self-serving. IAPT takes a photo of the client in a 2 week period when with their assistance they appear to be doing well. This is like defendants Insurers taking video footage of client claiming an acquired injury, with snapshots of him/her going to the shops, sometimes accompanied, over a 2 week period. It says nothing of their fitness to persist in a pre-existing manual job. There is no meaningful distilation of the T in PICOT. IAPT’s practice makes it impossible to evaluate the service according to the NHS and NICE recommended PICOT framework.The IAPT data set is insufficient to meet the PICOT criteria above, at each level.
IAPT operates in a pre EBT mode, relying simply on the judgements of practitioners and by reference to the designated ‘Experts’ within the Organisation, oftentimes nominated by the British Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapies (BABCP). The ‘nominations’ are not advanced by BABCP’s claim to be the ‘lead organisation’ for CBT, it certainly does not lead to the promised land. My own research Scott M. J. (2018). Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) – The Need for Radical Reform. Journal of health psychology, 23(9), 1136–1147. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318755264suggests that only the tip of the iceberg recover in IAPT.
The IAPT training courses fail to equip clinicians with the skills to avoid being led astray, making my real world findings of effectiveness or the lack thereof, unsurprising.
who exhibit power without accountability. They include companies such as SilverCloud and limbic and professional bodies such as the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP) and the British Psychological Society (BPS).
I reported SilverCloud to the ASA over its claim of ‘up to 70% clinical recovery rates’ for its computerised CBT. Unfortunately they could not act on it as it comes under Irish jurisdiction. The matter has been passed to the Irish ASA, from whom I have heard nothing. The reach of SilverCloud is extensive, with its’ claim to be “supporting 80% of the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies(IAPT) services”. It is a major financial backer of IAPT workshops. But there has been no independent verification of SilverCloud’s claimed recovery rates.
IAPT workshops are also now funded by limbic ‘An A. I. assistant for clinical assessment in IAPT – improving access, reducing costs and freeing up staff time’. Recently the British Psychological Society Journal the Psychologist devoted an article to the claims of the CE0 of limbic. I protested, and furnished a critique which the Editor declined. I note that in the current issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry that there is a paper by IAPT researchers Delgadillo et al 2022 JAMA Psychiatry. 2022;79(2):101-108. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.3539 published online December 8, 2021 in which they have been unable to substantiate the claims of limbic.
But Delgadillo et al (2022) do claim a 7% increase in the likelihood of recovery if IAPT therapist use the limbic algorithm i.e inputting data on depression, anxiety, history etc to determine whether the particular clients needs are better met by IAPT standard stepped care or by a stratified procedure where clients are allegedly better matched to high or low intensity CBT initially. However they do observe that the apparent difference could be due the therapists involved in stratification devoting more time to clients!
Delgadillo et al (2022) accept without question IAPT’s definition of recovery, a change of score on a self-report measure, the PHQ9, to below caseness. They fail to point out that their metric does not a) involve independent assessors to counter the demand characteristics involved in usage of a self-report measure i.e the focus on this measure in client-therapist interactions b) the IAPT data provides no indication that clients see the claimed changes as clinically meaningful, i.e back to old self or best functioning c) symptoms of depression and anxiety wax and wane, so that any improvement on a self-report measure can be simply a flash in the pan, particularly when people present initially at their worst. It has to be determined that any change is lasting e.g at least 8 weeks. It appears that Delgadillo et al (2022) simply rejoice in the large data set furnished by IAPT, it is a case of ‘never mind the quality, feel the width’.
When the power holders collude in this way, it is difficult make headway. I think limbic should also be reported to the ASA and BABCP and BPS should be asked to justify their commitment to Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs), the deliverers of low intensity CBT – it looks suspiciously like cronyism, however unintentional.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) can only base its treatment recommendations on studies that have a rigorous methodology. In generating the proposed recommendations on the treatment of depression &source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwic8KOfmcD1AhVOasAKHVt8C_EQFnoECAcQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nice.org.uk%2Fguidance%2Findevelopment%2Fgid-cgwave0725&usg=AOvVaw01CPXDGEYzB5NZCOPcgTFr NICE has ignored all studies that emanate from the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). Yet the lead organisation for cognitive behaviour therapy, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP) BABCP response – NICE consultation draft https://www.google.co.uk/urlsa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s has protested vehemently about this. But applying the ‘Psychotherapy outcome study methodology rating form’ developed by Ost (2008) OST the original randomised controlled trials of CBT for depression and anxiety disorders had a mean score of 27.8, (SD 4.2). Applying the scale to studies by IAPT related personnel, they struggle to score into double figures – a fate shared by studies of low intensity CBT. To put these scores in context, Ost (2008) dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2007.12.005 found the total mean score for ACT was 18.1 (SD 5.0) and for DBT 19.4 (SD 3.9). He considered the scores for ACT and BDBT too low, for them to be regarded as Evidence Supported Treatments (ESTs). How much less of an EST then are the IAPT interventions? BABCP defends itself by saying the IAPT studies need to be evaluated by some other metric, but don’t specify which. This sounds suspiciously like the defending of a family member, rather than being data driven.
It should be noted that IAPT does not measure either adherence (item 15 on the rating form) nor competence (item 16 on the rating scale). Thus there is no assurance of treatment integrity in IAPT. IAPT clinicians have been a law unto themselves. NICE therefore cannot be sure that IAPT’s alleged treatment interventions were delivered.
The studies by IAPT related personnel fail abysmally on almost every index of reliable methodology. Running through the rating form: IAPT therapists do not make diagnoses, making for ‘0’ scores for items 1-6, similarly ‘0s’ would be awarded for no blind evaluators (item 7), no assessor training (item8), no random, assignment to treatments (item 9), no control groups (item 10), treatment as usual (item 11), no power analysis (item 12), only pre and post assessment points (item 12), effects of therapist were not assessed, nor level of training [items 14 & 15generously a score of 1 could be awarded on both these items, no control of concomitants (item 18), no intention to treat analyses (item 19), statistical analysis confined to completes (item 20), no evidence of real world clinical significance (item 21 but a case could be made for awarding a 1 score, no equality of therapy hours because no comparison condition (item 22).
The low intensity rcts similarly rate very poorly on the rating form. Studies of these cheap offerings rely on establishing statistically significant differences with a comparison group. Never stopping to assess whether any found difference is clinically meaningful. Any differences do not pass the ‘Does it matter? test, or the ‘So what? test or the ‘Why should anyone care?’ test. In none of the studies have clients been asked independently post treatment ‘are you back to your usual self, now?’ Importantly if they reply ‘yes’, then asking ‘for how long have you been back to your usual self?. Studies of the natural history of anxiety disorders have utilised a period of 8 weeks free of meeting diagnostic criteria, to define recovery, Bruce et al (2005)] The absence of data on the proportion of clients returned to their normal and enduring functioning by these ‘cost-saving’ interventions, means that prospective clients cannot make an informed choice about engaging in such treatments. NICE needs to proceed more cautiously in recommending low intensity CBT.