Strategies for reducing patient-initiated premature termination of psychotherapy.

Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1W6, Canada.
Harvard Review of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 2.49). 01/2005; 13(2):57-70. DOI: 10.1080/10673220590956429
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Rates of patient-initiated premature termination in different forms of psychotherapy are consistently high. Patient-initiated premature termination is recognized as a significant obstacle to the effective and efficient use of psychotherapy. The literature describes many strategies for preventing premature termination, but lacks integration. This review attempts to provide a concise and comprehensive summary of the strategies that research or clinical experience have suggested may be useful for minimizing patient-initiated premature termination. A search was conducted on the MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and EMBASE databases for literature published between January 1970 and March 2004. Retrieved articles were published in English in peer-reviewed journals and focused on psychotherapy for adults. Thirty-nine publications that discussed strategies for preventing or reducing patient-initiated premature termination of psychotherapy were identified. Surprisingly, only 15 of these were research studies. Most of the retrieved literature consisted of clinical descriptions. The strategies can be assigned to nine categories: pretherapy preparation, patient selection, time-limited or short-term contracts, treatment negotiation, case management, appointment reminders, motivation enhancement, facilitation of a therapeutic alliance, and facilitation of affect expression. Research supports some of the strategies for reducing premature termination. However, methodologically sound studies of prevention strategies remain few in number.

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