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An exploratory study of inducing positive expectancies for psychotherapy
Aging and Mental Health (2012)
  • Erin L. Woodhead, San Jose State University
  • I. I. Ivan
  • E. E. Emery
Objectives: The goal of this study was to determine whether explicit presentation of outcome data about the effectiveness of psychotherapy among older adults increased positive expectancy for treatment. Method: The study included an ethically diverse sample of 50 adults over age 60 who screened positive for depression and agreed to participate in the BRIGHTEN Program, an interdisciplinary geriatric mental health program. Prior to treatment initiation, we presented participants with outcome data about psychotherapy, asked participants to rate and respond to the data, and asked participants about prior experience with mental health treatment. These data were collected via semi-structured interviews. Results: Higher importance ratings for the outcome data were significantly associated with starting psychotherapy (r = 0.30, p = 0.04). Depression severity predicted importance assigned to the outcome data (ß = 0.36, p = 0.03), more severely depressed participants rated the outcome data as more important. Qualitative analyses indicated that the presentation of outcome data increased hopefulness for successful treatment. In a hierarchical regression analysis, hopefulness in the data predicted data importance ratings, above and beyond the influence of depression severity (ß = 0.50, p < 0.01). Conclusion: Our results suggest that information about the effectiveness of psychotherapy was important to participants and was associated with starting psychotherapy. High importance ratings for the data were primarily driven by the data increasing hopefulness for successful treatment outcomes. Although this study was exploratory, it suggests that explicit presentation of the effectiveness of psychotherapy may create positive expectancies for treatment among older adults.
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Erin L. Woodhead, I. I. Ivan and E. E. Emery. "An exploratory study of inducing positive expectancies for psychotherapy" Aging and Mental Health Vol. 16 (2012)
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