Online feedback tool reduces deterioration of psychological treatment by 74%

An online feedback tool that allows therapists to monitoring patients with depression has reduced the probability of deterioration during psychological treatment by 74 percent, according to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry.


Through the NHS of England, people with depression are offered psychological treatment. However, while half of the patients respond to treatment, up to 10 percent experience deterioration in their depression or anxiety. In this study, researchers—led by Jaime Delgadillo with the University of Sheffield—evaluated the feasibility of an online feedback patient monitoring system in reducing the rate of deterioration.

"Patients who don't respond well to therapy usually drop out of treatment after only a few sessions,” noted Delgadillo and colleagues. “The outcome feedback technology we developed accurately identifies problems early on and allows therapists to be more in tune with their patients' difficulties and obstacles to improvement."

The online tool, called “Outcome Feedback,” uses patient feedback to identify those at risk of deterioration by tracking symptoms and monitoring responses during treatment. When symptoms of deterioration arise, the tool flags the case and allows therapists to intervene and develop more efficient treatment.

The study enrolled 2,233 mental health patients who had received care through the NHS. Participants were provided with the feedback tool where they completed weekly questionnaires on the frequency and intensity of depression and anxiety symptoms. Symptoms included lethargy, low mood, disrupted sleep cycle, loss of appetite, restlessness, constant worry and difficulty relaxing. Results showed the tool was able to reduce the probability of deterioration by 74 percent.

“Supplementing psychological therapy with low-cost feedback technology can reduce symptom severity in patients at risk of poor response to treatment,” concluded Delgadillo and colleagues. “This evidence supports the implementation of outcome feedback in stepped care psychological services.”