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Keywords:

  • clinical decision making;
  • dissemination efforts;
  • evidence-based practices;
  • intuition;
  • mental health clinicians;
  • psychotherapy

Abstract

Rationale, aims and objectives  Despite increasing dissemination efforts, many psychotherapists still do not use treatments that are supported by research. Some have claimed that psychotherapists rely more on their clinical intuition than scientific evidence when making treatment decisions, but there is a paucity of research on this topic. The aim of the study was to examine the relationship between intuition and therapists' attitudes towards evidence-based practices (EBPs).

Methods  Psychotherapists from diverse professional backgrounds completed an Internet-based survey that assessed EBP attitudes, reliance on an intuitive thinking style, attitudes about alternative therapies and endorsement of erroneous health beliefs that are not supported by scientific evidence.

Results  Regression analyses showed that an intuitive thinking style was associated with several dimensions of EBP attitudes, including more negative attitudes towards research, less openness to research-based treatments, and less willingness to use evidence-based treatments if required to do so, even after controlling for background factors such as education level. Furthermore, a tendency to rely on intuition was associated with more positive attitudes towards alternative therapies and the endorsement of erroneous health beliefs.

Conclusions  Most dissemination efforts targeted at psychotherapists focus only on education about EBPs. However, results of this study suggest that dissemination efforts may need to more directly address the potential barriers to using EBPs (i.e. reliance on intuition) to be optimally effective in changing therapists' attitudes and behaviours.