New paper, using CORC data, reports on adolescents' reliable improvement rates in depression and anxiety at the end of treatment

New paper in BJPsych Open ‘Evaluation of reliable improvement rates in depression and anxiety at the end of treatment in adolescents’

by Julian Edbrooke-Childs, Miranda Wolpert, Victoria Zamperoni, Elisa Napoleone and Holly Bear

There is evidence to suggest that levels of anxiety and depression in adolescents is increasing. Discussion and research efforts have predominantly focussed on increasing the availability of treatment to meet this increasing demand and encouraging children and young people to seek help for the mental health problems they are experiencing. However, there is much less discussion about how many children and young people are significantly better following treatment nor how to discuss this at the outset of the treatments being provided.  This is crucial information to help practitioners set realistic expectations for outcomes and support adolescents to make informed choices about their care.

Data was collected from 4464 adolescents, seen in 75 specialist mental health services in England. 53% of young people with anxiety and no comorbid depression reliably improved, 44% with depression and no comorbid anxiety reliably improved and 35% with comorbid depression and anxiety reliably improved.

These findings raise important implications for research and practice in relation to meeting the needs of young people with anxiety and depression. One key implication for practice is the need for a recalibration of what is said to young people and the wider public about the likely outcome of therapy, particularly, that not everyone will be measurably improved by the end of treatment.

Director of the Evidence Based Practice Unit and co-author, Professor Miranda Wolpert, said: “Whilst these figures need to be treated with caution given the FUPS nature of the data this research highlights the need for a more open discussion about the likely outcomes following treatment”.

We asked researcher Holly Bear about her part in the evaluation, with this Q&A. 

Read the full paper here.