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Do Therapists Underestimate Patient Preferences for Empirical Support in Psychological Treatment?. John J Bergquist Brett J Deacon, Ph.D. Leilani J Hipol Psychology Department. PROPOSED RESEARCH PROJECT. Introduction. Methods. Hypotheses.
John J Bergquist
Brett J Deacon, Ph.D.
Leilani J Hipol
PROPOSED RESEARCH PROJECT
Evidence-based practice (EBP) is defined by the American Psychological Association as an integration of research, clinical expertise, and patient characteristics (APA 2006). There has been a relative failure regarding the dissemination of evidence-based psychological treatments, demonstrated by the underutilization of evidence-based treatments such as exposure therapy for anxiety disorders.
The proposed study seeks to determine if therapist perceptions about patient treatment preferences are a barrier to the dissemination of evidence-based practice in general, and exposure in particular.
Patients recruited from online support groups for panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) will be asked to complete a measure consisting of clinical vignettes depicting a person seeking mental health treatment. Patients are then instructed to read each vignette carefully and imagine that they are the person seeking mental health treatment. The vignettes depict either personal growth/mild adjustment problems (n=2) or severe anxiety disorders (n=2). Patients will be asked to rate the importance of certain relational (e.g. therapist empathy) vs. scientific characteristics (e.g. empirical support) of psychological treatment for each type of clinical problem depicted in the vignettes. Patients will also be asked to complete a measure containing questions about their beliefs about exposure therapy (is exposure dangerous, effective, ethical, etc.).
Psychotherapists recruited from the “Find a Therapist” directory of the Psychology Today (www.psychologytoday.com) website will be asked to complete the same measures, with instructions to answer according to how they think the average patient would respond.
It is hypothesized that therapists will underestimate the importance patients place on scientific characteristics of psychotherapy for severe psychopathology. It is also hypothesized that therapists will overestimate the level of negative beliefs patients have regarding to exposure.
Once collected, data will be analyzed to determine whether a barrier to dissemination of EBP and/or Exposure exists due to therapist perceptions about patient preferences in psychological treatment. This barrier would be identified by comparing scores on the administered measures between and/or within the two samples.
I would like to thank Dr. Deacon for his tremendous support throughout the course of the project. A special thanks to the McNair Scholars program, specifically Zackie and Susan for all of their patience and invaluable knowledge. I would also like to thank my good friend, and soon-to-be graduate student mentor, Leilani Hipol. Without her encouragement and experience I doubt I would be where I am now with respect to both my status as a McNair scholar or my level of involvement in research here at the University.
The findings can potentially identify a barrier to the dissemination of evidence-based treatments. Removal of these barriers can allow for greater access of high-quality of treatments for those seeking out mental health services.