One of IAPT’s criteria for claiming patient recovery is shifting a patient’s PHQ9 score to less than 10. But in a study by Gilbody et al (2015) [ see link below] involving 179 patients undergoing treatment as usual in primary care with an initial diagnoses of depression and PHQ9 scores of above 10, 101, (56%) of patients recovered within 4 months. [ A study of treatment as usual cases by Moore at al (2012) similarly showed a 47% recovery]. IAPT currently claims a 50% recovery rate, the burden of proof is on IAPT to demonstrate that it produces results significantly different to those treatments engaged in before its’ inception.
Even when the metric is an adequate treatment response the differences between IAPT and treatment as usual (TAU) are not apparent. In the study by Moore et al (2012) [see link below] of 576 TAU cases of depression who completed the PHQ9 twice (mostly within 3 months) 63% showed an adequate treatment response ( a drop of 5 or more points), this is not discernibly different to IAPT’s findings.
CCG’s want it seems to be seen to be mindful of mental health, as their masters NHS England dictate, but don’t want to engage in effortful thinking in this domain, bypassing it by talking only of operational matters, numbers, waiting times etc. It is a new political correctness that also permeates the political parties.
The true metric of recovery is returning a person to their usual self ( a minimum component of which is losing diagnostic status, assessed independently), IAPT has studiously avoided such a hard outcome measure preferring its’ own surrogate. All this despite that the original randomised controlled trials for anxiety and depression insisting on hard outcome measures.
Unfortunately mental health charities are often now dependent on IAPT and private agencies seek to ape IAPTs metrics, the upshot is that for the past decade there has been precious little evidence based psychological treatment of the sort I advocated in Simply Effective CBT London: Routlege (2009).
Dr Mike Scott