Innovative Methods to Assess Psychotherapy Practices (imAPP)

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  • sponsor
    Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research
Updated on 21 June 2021


This project compares two methods of assessing the quality of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that do not involve directly observing sessions: 1) adherence checklists embedded in clinical notes, and 2) rating the quality of worksheets that are completed with therapist guidance during sessions. It also examines whether ratings of worksheets completed on a mobile app are reliable and valid quality measures. This information can inform strategies to monitor and enhance CBT quality, which can ultimately improve the quality of care and clinical outcomes.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been demonstrated to be effective for numerous presenting problems, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Several large mental health systems have invested heavily in programs to train their clinicians in CBTs, but relatively little attention has been devoted to the monitoring or promotion of CBT quality after training is complete. Identifying strategies to do so can facilitate research and training, and is critical to ensuring consumer access to high quality, evidence-based treatments. The lack of a scalable, effective, and efficient method of monitoring quality is a key barrier to efforts to promote high-quality implementation. Self-report fidelity assessments increase clinician and consumer burden and may not accurately reflect clinician skill or the intensity with which CBT interventions are delivered. Observation and expert ratings are time and resource intensive and unlikely to be feasible or affordable in large systems. To maximize the likelihood of broad implementation once effective strategies to monitor quality are established, it is essential that these strategies are feasible and acceptable in routine care contexts, leveraging information collected during routine care. To date, few monitoring strategies that do not involve observation, client/caregiver reports, or clinician self-reports have been tested. To address this critical implementation challenge, we propose to refine and evaluate a method of monitoring quality that is based on an evaluation of CBT worksheets that are completed in session. Because the worksheets were developed to implement core cognitive and behavioral elements and are embedded in CBTs across diagnostic categories, they may be used to elucidate the clinician's ability to guide the client through CBT interventions in session. Preliminary research with this measure demonstrated high correlations between the measure and observer ratings of clinician competence, associations with subsequent symptom change, and high agreement between raters with differing levels of familiarity with CBT. Completion of the ratings based on worksheets requires only a small fraction of time required for session observation and ratings. This project will compare this novel strategy to observer ratings and adherence checklists that are embedded in clinical notes. Furthermore, it will compare the accuracy of worksheet data collected by mobile app to paper-form worksheets, and assess the feasibility and acceptability of these strategies. Because the core elements of CBT and its worksheets are common across many CBTs, this research has broad implications for monitoring fidelity to CBTs in a variety of mental health and healthcare systems and settings. This research will be conducted by a team of investigators with expertise in CBT, training, implementation, psychotherapy process and outcome research, psychometrics, longitudinal data analysis, mobile technologies and healthcare economics, with input from community partners and end-users. The resulting products have the potential to significantly improve efforts to monitor and ensure ongoing high quality implementation of CBT in routine care settings.

Condition Mobile Application-Based CBT Worksheet Collection, Paper-Based Worksheet Collection, Mobile Application-Based CBT Worksheet Collection, Paper-Based Worksheet Collection
Treatment Cognitive behavioral therapy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03479398
SponsorPalo Alto Veterans Institute for Research
Last Modified on21 June 2021

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