Psychotherapy Shows Positive Outcomes in German Hospitals

Rob Wipond
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In what the authors describe as “the first meta-analysis on the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic hospital treatment in Germany,” two Hamburg University Medical Center researchers evaluated whether psychotherapeutic approaches help patients “with common mental disorders of higher severity.” They reviewed 59 studies from 1977 to 2009, and reported in PLOS One that, “Psychotherapeutic hospital treatment may be considered an effective treatment.”

The researchers noted that, in Germany, hospital inpatient psychotherapy is a commonly preferred approach over medical or pharmacological treatments. It can include individual and group psychotherapy, psychoeducational groups, occupational therapy, creative therapy, relaxation training, exercise therapy and medical treatment. Acknowledging the risk of bias in the studies, especially due to the lack of randomized controlled trials, the researchers included both published and unpublished studies, contacted study authors for extra information, conducted a number of bias risk assessments on the data, and did not attempt to draw causal inferences.

“It can be concluded that psychotherapeutic hospital treatment shows positive outcomes for both psychopathological symptoms and interpersonal problems,” the researchers wrote. “However, the effects in the two domains differ in their magnitude and pattern. Symptom reduction reaches a medium effect size at discharge but the effect slightly decreases between discharge and follow-up. On the other hand, interpersonal problems are reduced at a slower pace and are less substantial in the short term, yet they continue to decrease from discharge to follow-up.”

Do Patients’ Symptoms and Interpersonal Problems Improve in Psychotherapeutic Hospital Treatment in Germany? – A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (Liebherz, Sarah and Rabung, Sven. PLOS One. August 20, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105329)

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