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Publication Detail
Are students less likely to respond to routinely delivered psychological treatment? A retrospective cohort analysis
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Barnett P, Saunders R, Buckman JEJ, Cardoso A, Cirkovic M, Leibowitz J, Main N, Naqvi SA, Singh S, Stott J, Varsani L, Wheatly J, Pilling S
  • Publisher:
    Elsevier BV
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Comprehensive Psychiatry
  • Volume:
  • Article number:
  • Medium:
  • Status:
  • Country:
    United States
  • PII:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Anxiety, Cohort, Depression, Mental health, Psychological treatment, Student
  • Notes:
    © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
BACKGROUND: Depression and anxiety disorders are increasingly prevalent among university students, making the provision of effective treatment in this population a priority. Whilst campus-based services provide some psychological treatments, many students are treated by routine adult psychological treatment services which have no focus or adaptations to treatment for student populations. We aimed to compare psychological treatment outcomes between university students and young adults (aged 18-25) in employment to explore whether routinely delivered psychological interventions are equally effective for these groups, or whether students report poorer outcomes. METHODS: A retrospective cohort was formed of 19,707 patients treated by eight National Health Service (NHS) Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services in England. Associations between student status (compared to same-age employed adults) and psychological treatment outcomes were explored using logistic regression models. Models were adjusted for important treatment, clinical and demographic characteristics, and propensity score matching was used to explore the robustness of effects. RESULTS: Students and the employed comparison group were similar on baseline characteristics at assessment, but students were less likely to reliably recover (OR = 0.90 [95% CI = 0.83;0.96]) and reliably improve (OR = 0.91 [95% CI = 0.84;0.98]) by the end of treatment in fully adjusted models. Students and the employed group did not differ regarding the likelihood of deterioration (OR = 0.89 [95% CI = 0.78;1.02]) or treatment dropout (OR = 1.01 [95% CI = 0.93;1.11]). CONCLUSIONS: Students appear at risk of poorer outcomes compared to employed younger adults when treated in routine psychological treatment services. Students may require additional support and treatment adaptations that account for student-specific stressors as this might improve psychological treatment outcomes.
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