Psychological therapy: Call for more research

An editorial in Nature has emphasised the need for more funding for scientific research into the causes underlying the effectiveness of psychological therapies.

Talking of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme, the journal says:

Inspect the databases of this programme and you find large variations in outcomes between UK regions. A deeper look would allow one to examine many factors relating to the effectiveness of such treatments, thereby opening the prospect of improvements in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

As psychologists outside Britain will confirm, despite the variability in outcomes, this programme represents a world-beating standard thanks to the scale of its implementation and the validation of its treatments by the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. And yet since its inception, the UK government has prevented any of the funds from being used for scientific research on the factors underlying its measured impacts.

And it concludes:

Many funding agencies around the world are too keen solely to support mechanistic investigations with potential long-term payoffs, and too unwilling to appreciate that part of their portfolio should be oriented towards identifying immediately effective psychological interventions. Success in this area would further encourage policy-makers to enhance much-needed access to treatment for psychiatrically ill individuals. After all, many of these people are taxpayers who ultimately fund research into brains and minds.

You can read the full editorial on the Nature website.