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Collecting Routine Outcome Data in a Psychotherapy Community Clinic for Young People: Findings from an Ongoing Study



Background:  The paper reports on the collection of routine outcome data from an ongoing audit at a voluntary sector psychotherapy service for young people aged 12 to 21 years in London offering once-weekly psychotherapy.

Method:  The study uses intake and follow-up data from an ongoing audit of the psychotherapy service that started in 1993; 1608 young people were included in the study. Measures and areas of interest include the Youth Self Report Form, a significant other (SO) version of the Teacher’s Report Form, the Young Adult Self Report Form, and the Young Adult Behaviour Check List.

Results:  Percentage returns at intake were 94% (self), 66% (SO) and 80% (therapist), but became 35%, 21% and 38% at 3-month follow-up, and decreased further at 6- and 12-month follow-up. At all time points, significant other report rates were lower than self or therapist report rates. Young people who did not provide data at intake were more likely to have dropped out of treatment. Over the 15-year period of the audit, intake self-report data rates remained stable (about 94%) whereas SO and especially therapist report rates increased. However, there was a reduction in self, significant other and therapist report rates at 3- and 6-month follow-up.

Conclusions:  Collecting routine outcome data was compromised by a variety of factors, and systematic efforts, including introducing initiatives for participation are needed to increase follow-up data rates and improve their quality.