It's what's under the hood that counts: comparing therapeutic outcomes when using Australian versus UK-produced clinical materials in an Australian mental health program.

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    • Abstract:
      Objective: MindStep™ is an Australian low-intensity cognitive behaviour therapy (LICBT) program for individuals with mild-to-moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression. UK-produced LICBT guided self-help (GSH) materials were originally used in the MindStep™ program. In 2017, Australian LICBT GSH materials were developed to better suit Australian users. This study explored whether the Australian-produced materials continued to achieve the benchmark recovery rates established in the UK and maintained in recent Australian studies. Methods: Binomial logistic regression was conducted using retrospective client data, including the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and the Generalised Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale, between 2016 and 2019. Results: During time periods in which the Australian-produced materials were used, equivalent rates of reliable recovery and improvement were achieved compared with time periods in which the UK-produced materials were used. Australian-trained LICBT coaches, using Australian-produced LICBT GSH materials, achieve client recovery rates of up to 60%, reliable improvement rates of 58% and reliable recovery rates of 46% (with the probability of recovery increasing with client age). Conclusions: These findings are particularly pertinent with COVID-19 changing the landscape of mental health service delivery, requiring greater flexibility in the use of teleservices to ensure access to effective mental health care for populations that may already experience problems with isolation, access and service engagement. What is known about the topic?: LICBT is an acceptable, feasible and effective treatment approach for people experiencing mild-to-moderate anxiety and depression in Australia. LICBT GSH materials used with clients in Australia originated from the UK. However, according to guidelines, LICBT GSH materials should be contextualised to suit the audience they are being used with. What does this paper add?: This paper demonstrates that LICBT GSH materials tailored to an Australian context can be used in place of UK-produced materials because they yield equivalent and consistent therapeutic outcomes. Although contextualising the LICBT GSH materials for health services users was important, it is likely that the evidence-based cognitive behaviour therapy techniques sitting 'under the hood' of these materials are most important to ensure successful therapeutic outcomes. What are the implications for practitioners?: As we face unprecedented challenges following 2020, the physical, social, psychological and economic impacts of life-changing events must not inhibit access to treatments for common mental health conditions. It is anticipated that more non-traditional, alternative providers of mental health services will be needed to scale-up and respond to increasing demand. This paper shows that the provision of telephone-based LICBT in Australia, by trained coaches using Australian-produced GSH materials, is an evidenced-based support pathway that can reduce the access gap to treatments. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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