This study evaluated the impact of applying computerized outcome feedback (OF) technology in a stepped care psychological service offering low and high intensity therapies for depression and anxiety.
A group of therapists were trained to use OF based on routine outcome monitoring using depression (PHQ-9) and anxiety (GAD-7) measures. Therapists regularly reviewed expected treatment response graphs with patients and discussed cases that were “not on track” in clinical supervision. Clinical outcomes data were collected for all patients treated by this group (N = 594), six months before (controls = 349) and six months after the OF training (OF cases = 245). Symptom reductions in PHQ-9 and GAD-7 were compared between controls and OF cases using longitudinal multilevel modelling. Treatment duration and costs were compared using MANOVA. Qualitative interviews with therapists (N = 15) and patients (N = 6) were interpreted using thematic analysis.
OF technology was generally acceptable and feasible to integrate in routine practice. No significant between-group differences were found in post-treatment PHQ-9 or GAD-7 measures. However, OF cases had significantly lower average duration and cost of treatment compared to controls.
After adopting OF into their practice, this group of therapists attained similar clinical outcomes but within a shorter space of time and at a reduced average cost per treatment episode. We conclude that OF can improve the efficiency of stepped care.