Expansion Into Long Term Conditions By IAPT Is Quackery

so challenge Clinical Commissioning Groups on the value for money – no better than homeopathy. Studies of CBT  for long term conditions (LTCs) show either no effect, see Serfaty et al study (2019) on cancer https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/effectiveness-of-cognitivebehavioural-therapy-for-depression-in-advanced-cancer-cantalk-randomised-controlled-trial/E9264C516634EC7BC3FF9E80B551A8C5

and/or rely on a self report measure of questionable real world significance, see the Everitt et al  (2019) study of irritable bowel syndrome https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langas/article/PIIS2468-1253(19)30243-2/fulltext In the Everitt et al (2019) study outcome was assessed primarily by the patient’s completion of a 5 item measure of the severity of IBS (IBS-SSS) rather than a clinician independent of the study asking the IBS-Adequate Relief  question ‘ since… have you had adequate relief of your IBS’. Usually the IBS-AR uses the time frame of the past seven days but in the context of assessing CBT it could be since entering the study for a control group or since cbt for those having cbt.  The correlation between the IBS-AR and IBS-SSS though significant is small see Passos et al (2009) http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:35859644

The authors of the Everitt et al (2019) study appear not to realise  that use of a self-report measure as the primary outcome measure introduces a demand effect for clients undergoing cbt, they don’t want to feel that they have wasted their time. Further the Passos et al (2009) study showed that the IBS-AR is much less subject to fluctuation than the IBS-SSS. Arguably the IBS-AR is of much greater social significance, addressing whether an intervention makes a real world difference. 

It is worrying that Everitt et al (2019) opine:

‘Offering both web-CBT and telephone-CBT in NHS services such as Improving Access to Psychological Therapy could allow many patients to gain substantial benefits with web-CBT with minimal therapist input while allowing a step-up approach to telephone-CBT for those needing additional

IAPT will surely jump on this to justify empire building and likely ignore the caution of Serfaty et al (2019) 

‘our results suggest that resources for a relatively costly therapy such as IAPT-delivered CBT should not be considered as a first-line treatment for depression in advanced cancer. Indeed, these  findings raise important questions about the need to further evaluate the use of IAPT for people with comorbid severe illness’

If as seems likely Clinical Commisioning Groups fund IAPT’s expansion into LTCs they should be asked to justify this expenditure in the abscence of any empirical base.  

Dr Mike Scott

‘What, If Anything, Is Beyond The Glitz Of IAPT?’ Asks Journal Editor

‘IAPT Talking Therapies All Glitz and No Substance?’  is the title of a Press Release from the Editor of the Journal of Health Psychology, Dr David Marks, The Press release reads:



‘The Journal of Health Psychology is calling for an urgent independent review of patient recovery rates
with the NHS ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) talking therapies programme.

A recent study by Dr. Michael Scott revealed that only one in ten mental health patients actually
recovered (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1359105318755264).

Now JHP editor, Dr David F Marks, is calling for IAPT recovery rates to be closely scrutinized. He
wants solid evidence that patients who have recovered stay well over the long term.

Michael Scott’s study found that overall just 9.2% of patients recovered with IAPT therapies. There is
an enormous gap of 40% between these findings and IAPT’s claimed recovery figure.
The study’s recovery rates were: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – 16.2%, depression – 14.9%, other
mental disorders including anxiety – 2.2%.

Dr Scott, Consultant Psychologist and Expert Witness to the Courts, suggested “a pressing need to reexamine…the service”. IAPT’s economic model hinges on good recovery rates and high recruitment.
The contributors to this Special Issue of the journal, “IAPT Under the Microscope”, have all expressed
doubts about the veracity of IAPT’s recovery claims. They agree that there’s a need for an independent
assessment of the type that a drug treatment would require before being approved for use.
The theory is that better mental health will lead to fewer physical health problems so that patients will
need less care. High recovery rates should then yield the promised hefty ‘efficiency’ savings to the
physical healthcare budget that will pay for the IAPT service.

The IAPT spotlight is on patients with ‘medically unexplained symptoms’ (MUS) and ‘long-term
conditions’ (LTCs) such as diabetes and COPD. This expansion into areas beyond its already
questionable expertise is likely to be clinically risky. Experts and patients are worried about the motives behind this and concerned that a mental health diagnosis will allow providers to restrict access to healthcare and other benefits. Can these therapies really reduce patients’ physical problems and their need for care, or is this an NHS version of a ‘hostile environment’?

The programme continues to grow as more local therapy services are rolled out across England. IAPT
aims to enrol over a million patients per year but the system is already creaking under the strain.
In his Editorial, Dr Marks proposes an open debate about England’s flagship IAPT project that has so
far cost the taxpayer around £1 billion. He calls for an independent, expert review to determine if IAPT
is likely to reap the promised rewards or asks if is it all glitz and no substance?

Notes to editors

Marks, D.F. (Ed.) (2018). “IAPT Under the Microscope” published online and in print on 26 July 2018.
http://journals.sagepub.com/home/hpq [see copy attached to email]

Scott, M.J. (2018). Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) – The Need for Radical
Reform. Journal of Health Psychology, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1359105318755264


Dr Michael J Scott, author of the IAPT study, is available at: 07580 644 038

Dr David F Marks, Editor of the Journal of Health Psychology, is available at: 07930 753 206 ;


Dr Mike Scott