the routine audit of mental health services such as IAPT, is based on client self-report measures such as the PHQ9. This carries the implicit assumption that the cut offs by themselves meaningfully distinguish cases from non-cases. Correspondence in this months British Journal of Psychiatry highlights how misleading reliance on a single self-report measure can be. One study using this methodology claimed two fifths of 11-15 year olds had mental health problems but when in another study assessment was conducted using standardised diagnostic interviews and diagnostic criteria the figure was just 13.6%!. doi:10.1192/bjp.2019.225
Whilst claims of high prevalence rates might be good for funding purposes and placing mental health on the public agenda there is no real world change for clients, the powerholders are the only beneficiaries.
In October 2019 my local IAPT claimed 87% (Talk Liverpool Performance Data) of those who completed treatment recovered in the previous 12 months, making Talk Liverpool outperform all other IAPT services (a national claim of a 50% recovery)! I can only think that Talk Liverpool have looked with envy at how Liverpool FC outperforms all other teams and has gone into delusional mode! My own study of 90 IAPT clients that I assessed independently using a standardised diagnostic interview showed that only the tip of the iceberg recover, see link below:
Rogers and Bender have written about ‘the myth of the laser accuracy of cut offs’ in their seminal work ‘The Clinical Assessment of Malingering and Deception’ (2018) Guilford Press. Clinical Commissioning Groups could do with lessons in all these issues when interacting with IAPT and stop displaying such breathtaking naivety.
Dr Mike Scott