Background:

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produces evidence-based guidance and advice for health, public health and social care practitioners. NICE has been working on a new depression guideline for several years. The NICE guideline for depression is a very long and technically complex document. NICE acknowledges that treatment decisions should be made in discussion with patients and that patients should be given a choice. But there is currently no evidence-based patient-centred information resource (or “guide to patient choice”) which could support patients to take a fully informed role in understanding their options for psychological therapies and discussing these with their GP.

The aim of this consultation was to inform the development of a guide to choice in psychotherapy (specific to depression). It was funded by the University of Essex ESRC Impact Acceleration Account. This was a user-led consultation, intending to form part of a larger study to be conducted in collaboration with partners from the University. The conduct of the consultation was led by Alison Faulkner and Premila Trivedi on behalf of NSUN and Shaping Our Lives, both of which are user-led organisations, with the aim of starting with the voices, views and experiences of people with lived experience of psychological therapy for depression.

Process:

We used focus groups and individual interviews to help to identify the outcomes, evidence and benefits of psychotherapy most valued by potential clients/service users, as well as the barriers and the information that people would find useful before embarking on therapy. This is a first step: the consultation has informed a more detailed funding application for developing the guide.

Findings:

Engagement and drop-out with psychological treatment services in the UK could be improved with greater involvement, choice, flexibility, patient empowerment and better information. We think that a decision guide (or ‘Patient Decision Aid’) for people wanting psychological therapy for depression could support and enable greater involvement and choice and should be developed collaboratively with people with lived experience. Our consultation findings suggest that a decision guide for this purpose should be based on information and treatment outcomes prioritized by service users in order to support ‘personalised care’ and fully informed decision making.

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