Research has shown that consistent use of objective measures in therapy improves overall treatment outcomes. One study found that when patient progress was measured in treatment, twice as many patients improved, and at-risk patients stayed in therapy longer and were less likely to deteriorate (Lambert et al. 2001).
Studies have identified the following four items as some of the major benefits derived from measuring patient progress.
Providing patients with a clear display of their progress and symptoms has been shown to reinforce motivation and engagement in therapy. This increased level of transparency offers patients a sense of control over their treatment process. Studies have even shown that administering outcome measures reduces patient cancellations and no-show rates (Bohanske & Franczak, 2010).
Regular symptom tracking can allow therapists to detect changes in health status and intervene early if necessary. Studies have shown that assessment results in the first three sessions of therapy are highly predictive of a positive or negative treatment outcome. It is important for therapists to be able to identify patients who are at risk of deterioration with a particular treatment plan. For these patients, measurement provides the greatest benefit (Lambert, 2007).
Real-time measurement and monitoring will allow therapists to obtain a more accurate picture of their patients’ wellbeing and reduce the impact of recall bias on therapy. Measurement does not replace a therapist’s method for decision-making, but instead, supplements and supports the traditional process with additional objective information.
Research has demonstrated that measurement has a positive effect on communication, which can improve clarity and alignment on treatment goals between the patient and therapist. Since patients are in the best position to assess how they are doing, measurement and display of progress may help patients identify and discuss information that is relevant to their treatment, which they otherwise may not have shared (Carlier et al. 2012).
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Carlier, I. V. E., Meuldijk, D., Van Vliet, I. M., Van Fenema, E., Van der Wee, N. J. A., & Zitman, F. G. (2012) Routine outcome monitoring and feedback on physical or mental health status: evidence and theory. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.
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Lambert, M.J., (2007). Progress Feedback and the OQ-System: The Past and the Future. Brigham Young University: APA Psychotherapy: 2015, Vol. 52, No. 4, 381–390.
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Lambert, M.J. J., Whipple, E. J., Hawkins, D. A., Niewlsen, S. L., Smart, D. W. (2003). Is it Time for Clinicians to Routinely Track Patient Outcome? A Meta-Analysis. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, 3, 288-301.
Lambert, M. J., Whipple, J. L., Bishop, M. J., Vermeersch, D. A., Gray, G. V., & Finch, A. E. (2002). Comparison of empirically derived and rationally derived methods for identifying clients at risk for treatment failure. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 9, 149–164.
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