An investigation of treatment return after psychological therapy for depression and anxiety

Ben Lorimer, Stephen Kellett, Julia Giesemann, Wolfgang Lutz, Jaime Delgadillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Some patients return for further psychological treatment in routine services, although it is unclear how common this is, as scarce research is available on this topic.

AIMS: To estimate the treatment return rate and describe the clinical characteristics of patients who return for anxiety and depression treatment.

METHOD: A large dataset (N=21,029) of routinely collected clinical data (2010-2015) from an English psychological therapy service was analysed using descriptive statistics.

RESULTS: The return rate for at least one additional treatment episode within 1-5 years was 13.7%. Furthermore, 14.5% of the total sessions provided by the service were delivered to treatment-returning patients. Of those who returned, 58.0% continued to show clinically significant depression and/or anxiety symptoms at the end of their first treatment, while 32.0% had experienced a demonstrable relapse before their second treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: This study estimates that approximately one in seven patients return to the same service for additional psychological treatment within 1-5 years. Multiple factors may influence the need for additional treatment, and this may have a major impact on service activity. Future research needs to further explore and better determine the characteristics of treatment returners, prioritise enhancement of first treatment recovery, and evaluate relapse prevention interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioural and cognitive psychotherapy
Early online date11 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s), 2023.

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