What is “Evidence-Based Treatment”?
By Robert Reiser, Ph.D. (www.robertreiser.com)
“Evidence-based treatments” (EBTs) or “empirically-supported treatments” are treatments that have been determined to be effective based on research and a “gold standard” of science. Evidence based practice is defined by the Institute of Medicine as “the integration of best-researched evidence and clinical expertise with patient values.”
How to Evaluate Evidence of Effectiveness of Treatment
It is clear that not all types of evidence are of the same quality.
In reviewing the scientific evidence that a treatment is effective,
there are several levels of evidence to be considered.
In general, researchers examining the evidence base for specific treatments review articles published in peer reviewed journals. Peer reviewed journals require that all journal submissions are reviewed by a group of peers to evaluate the quality of the data and the methodology used and finally the validity of the conclusions reached.
Why is it Important that Your Psychological Treatment is Evidence-based?
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), psychological treatment for people with a mood disorder (depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder) is highly effective if specific guidelines are followed: “For people suffering from a mood disorder, the outlook has never been better. Effective therapies, both pharmacological and behavioral, can help them recover from potentially devastating episodes of depression or mania and prevent possible relapses.
people suffering from a mood disorder, the outlook has never been better.”
However, the majority of practitioners do not follow specific guidelines for care. “Only half of individuals with anxiety and depressive disorders are accurately diagnosed, and of those diagnosed, only 25 to 50 percent receive guideline-level pharmacotherapy and less than 10 percent receive evidence-based psychotherapeutic treatments.”
Evaluating the Evidence: Where do I look?
In general, the Internet provides a great deal of information with greatly variable quality and reliability. There are a number of easily accessible and reliable sources for investigating the effectiveness of psychological or psychiatric treatments. Because most individuals do not subscribe to scientific journals and must go to a specialized library, we recommend using publicly available material form the National Library of Medicine and other reliable sources available on the Internet.
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