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Comparison of access, outcomes and experiences of older adults and working age adults in psychological therapy




This study aimed to evaluate the access, experiences and outcomes of older adults receiving psychological therapies in comparison with adults of working age


Primary and secondary care providers of psychological therapy services participated in the National Audit of Psychological Therapies. The main standards of access, experience and outcomes were measured by retrospective case records audits of people who completed therapy and a service user questionnaire. Outcomes were measured pre-treatment and post-treatment on the PHQ-9 and GAD-7.


A total of 220 services across 97 organisations took part, 137 (62%) in primary care. Service user questionnaires were received from 14 425 (20%) respondents. A total of 122 740 records were audited, of whom 7794 (6.4%) were older adults. They were under represented as 13% of the sample would have been expected to be over 65 years according to age adjusted psychiatric morbidity figures. People over 75 years had the third expected referral rate. Significantly, more older adults than working age adults completed therapy (59.6% vs 48.6%) and were assessed as having ‘recovered’ post-treatment (58.5% vs 45.5%). Older adults were more satisfied with waiting times and numbers of sessions, but there were no differences in self-reported experience of therapy.


Although older adults are less likely to gain access to psychological therapies, they appear to have better outcomes than working age adults. Further work is needed to improve access for older people. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.