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The alliance concept in psychiatric care Prof. Stefan Priebe Barts & the London School of Medicine Queen Mary, University of London.

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Presentation on theme: "The alliance concept in psychiatric care Prof. Stefan Priebe Barts & the London School of Medicine Queen Mary, University of London."— Presentation transcript:

1 The alliance concept in psychiatric care Prof. Stefan Priebe Barts & the London School of Medicine Queen Mary, University of London

2 Therapeutic alliance Clinician Individual Family and/or partner Other social and professional relationships Service Health care system Patient

3 The therapeutic alliance in psychotherapy “the vehicle of success in psychoanalysis exactly as in other methods of treatment” (Freud 1912) various terms, concepts & methods of assessment non-specific predicts outcome

4 Psychiatric settings vs. psychotherapy Statutory role Flexible setting Variable time-scale and possibly life long treatment Different and changing treatment goals, often aimed at stability rather than change Multidisciplinary teamwork Various treatment methods

5 Alliance in psychiatry In patient surveys consistently reported as the most important component of care In some quantitative studies predictor of adherence and outcomes In qualitative research identified as central factor for engagement

6 Study in Assertive Outreach patients Why and how did patients first disengage with services? Why and how did they later engage with AO teams? In-depth interviews Analysis using elements of Thematic Analysis and Grounded Theory

7 Findings on disengagement Three main themes were identified: 1) Desire to be an independent and able person 2) Lack of active participation and poor therapeutic relationship 3) Loss of control due to medication and its effects

8 Lack of active participation and poor relationship Breakdown of relationship with psychiatrists, with CPNs, in hospital or a combination Often positive description of individual clinicians (“I ‘ve never had a bad key worker”) Not being listened to and respected Not involved in decision making

9 Lack of active participation and poor relationship (I) “I just felt I was fobbed off … was definitely a case with some psychiatrists of Them and Us. And you couldn’t talk on the level at all, so in the end you didn’t say very much ….. I used to think who does it benefit and thought not me.” “They are trying to take over your life, treating you like a kid.”

10 Lack of active participation and poor relationship (II) “I felt they never listened to me and they were just making choices for me, and if they listened to me a bit more then I might have felt a bit more like I was. I just felt my life was out of control, and I didn’t have a say in what I was doing.” “They didn’t want to hear what you had to say…talking about something they want to talk about, which was very insulting.”

11 Findings on engagement Three main themes were identified: 1) Social support and engagement without focus on medication 2) Time and commitment 3) Partnership model of therapeutic relationship

12 Partnership model of therapeutic relationship Active role in decision making All staff, including psychiatrists, are perceived to take on board the patient’s experiences and views Appreciation of non-judgemental attitude, eg concerning drug abuse

13 Partnership model of therapeutic relationship (I) “He seems more concerned about me..when I suggested that I wanted to stop my depot for a while, he actually let me and he did actually come across as if he was concerned about me hallucinating again. And he wasn’t too pushy…He wanted me to be more involved in my own health, in looking after my own health rather than him.”

14 Partnership model of therapeutic relationship (II) “The team and I have been through a lot. They have seen me in a good position and the team have seen me in bad conditions, so they have an idea, a much better idea and understanding of my moods and how to react to things. So we have a good working relationship.”

15 Feeling after a meeting with key worker and hospitalisations in following 20 months Feeling after meeting


17 Data 778 interviewed patients were a) 2 years older, b) less often male (57% vs 66%) and c) more often white (77% vs 69%) than non-interviewed patients Within 1 year 234 patients (15%) were re- sectioned (and 169 voluntary admissions, 11%) 40% felt the index sectioning was justified

18 Predictors of re-sectioning In total sample, patients from black African or Caribbean background had higher rates The rate ration comparing Black to White was 1.37 In the interviewed sample, living alone, being on benefits and initial satisfaction with treatment were significant predictors

19 Factors associated with involuntary readmissions within one year Adjusted rate ratio 1 95% CIP Living alone (Yes v No) 0.590.35 0.990.045 Benefits (Yes v No) 1.831.13 2.950.014 Satisfaction with treatment (CAT, range 0-10) 0.930.86 1.000.039 1 Adjusted for age, gender and ethnic group

20 Factors associated with perceived justification of involuntary admission at one year Adjusted rate ratio 1 95% CIP Living alone (Yes v No) 1.951.07 3.550.029 Satisfaction with treatment (CAT, range 1.271.16 1.39<0.001 0-10)Social functioning (GAF, range 0-100) 0.950.93 0.980.001 1 1 Adjusted for age, gender and ethnic group and other variables in the model

21 Summary of findings (I) Black patients have slightly higher readmission rates (in line with general rates on sectioning) Being on benefits as indicator of poor socio- economic status is linked with re-sectioning Living alone increases re-sectioning rate (no social support), but is also linked with justification of sectioning (higher appreciation of hospital care) Low functioning at baseline is associated with justification of sectioning (experience of impact of acute illness on functioning)

22 Summary of findings (II) Lower initial satisfaction with treatment is associated with higher re-sectioning rates and less positive views of sectioning at one year Patients’ assessment of treatment matters, even if assessed at initial stages when patients still have high symptom levels

23 Theoretical Frameworks Role Theory Psychoanalysis Social Constructionism Systems Theory Social Psychology Cognitive Behaviourism

24 Role Theory Separate and mutually validating roles Paternalistic relationship Consumer relationship Collaborative relationship Focus on consistent aspects in a given situation

25 Psychoanalysis Individual history informing the present Transference and counter-transference in relationship Focus on consistent aspects in participating individuals

26 Social Constructionism Therapeutic relationship as a socially constructed institution Therapeutic relationship as a mutually constructed reality Focus on constructs determined by context

27 Systems Theory Relationships as part of a complex system of relations The dyadic patient-clinician-relationship as nucleus Possible consideration of wider systems related to patient and clinician Focus on differences and relationships within systems

28 Social Psychology The therapeutic relationship defined by social exchange The therapeutic relationship defined by social influence and expectations Focus on situational and contextual factors

29 Cognitive Behaviourism The therapeutic relationship in terms of mutual conditioning and reinforcement Relevant factors related to previous learning history and current reinforcement/models Focus on learning principles and underlying cognitions

30 Methods of assessment Methods developed for and in psychotherapy Empirically derived ‘non-specific’ methods Measures constructed for psychiatric settings Typically ad hoc measures Minimal established reliability and validity in psychiatric settings

31 Development of STAR Scale To Assess Therapeutic Relationships (in Community Mental Health Care) All items of existing scales tested for applicability Qualitative interviews with clinicians and patients for additional aspects All reasonable items applied Results subjected to factor analysis Test-retest reliability established for reduced version

32 STAR A patient and a clinician version Each with 12 items In each scale, 3 distinct factors are assessed: positive collaboration (6 items) positive clinician input (3 items), and non-supportive clinician input/emotional difficulties (3 items) Good psychometric properties

33 STAR-C I get along well with my patient (1) My patient and I share a good rapport (1) I listen to my patient (2) I feel my patient rejects me as a clinician (3) I believe my patient and I share a good relationship (1) I feel inferior to my patient (3) My patient and I share similar expectations regarding progress in treatment (1) I feel that I am supportive of my patient (2) It is difficult for me to empathise with or relate to my patient’s problems (3) My patient and I are open with one another (1) I am able to take my patient’s perspective (2) My patient and I share a trusting relationship (1)

34 STAR-P My C speaks with me about my personal goals and thoughts about treatment (2) My C and I are open with one another (1) My C and I share a trusting relationship (1) I believe my C withholds the truth from me (3) My C and I are honest with one another (1) My C and I work towards mutually agreed goals (1) My C is stern with me when I speak about things that are important to me (3) My C and I have established an understanding of the kind of changes that would be good for me (1) My C is impatient with me (3) My C seems to like me regardless of what I do or say (2) We agree on what is important for me to work on (1) I believe my C has an understanding of what my experiences have meant to me (2)

35 Current situation Are mental health professionals trained in establishing good alliances?


37 Medical consultation with patients with psychotic disorders Consultants explore psychotic experience only when checking medication effects Patients mention psychotic experience at pre-closing stages Consultants (and carers) respond with smiling and other avoiding behaviour Patients feel not understood

38 Current situation Are psychiatrists being trained in establishing good alliances? Do they receive regular supervision? Is the quality of alliances assessed in routine care? Is there extensive research on alliances?

39 Evidence based medicine on treatments in psychiatry Treatment definition Individual outcome Why? How? Processes, experiences and relationships probability ? ?

40 Why not more research? No financial or stakeholder interest? Difficulty to meet requirements of evidence based medicine? Contradiction in itself?

41 K. Jaspers : …the ultimate thing in the doctor-patient relationship is existential communication, which goes far beyond anything that can be planned or methodically staged. The whole treatment is … defined within a community of two selves who live out the possibilities of Existence itself, as reasonable beings.

42 Why not more research? No financial or stakeholder interest? Too resource intensive? Difficulty to meet requirements of evidence based medicine? Contradiction in itself? Assumption that there is good medical communication and that is it? Unclear concept?

43 Relationship/alliance and interaction/communication Relationship: Psychological construct held by participating individuals on each other and their interaction Interaction: Behavioural exchange between patient and clinician that is observable and may be described in objective terms

44 Alliance and communication Alliance as an overarching, powerful and appealing concept, but difficult to capture and influence Communication as an assessable phenomenon, but with unclear significance Does good communication lead to good alliance or vice versa or both?

45 Potential interventions in alliance Allocation of patients in line with anticipated alliance Change of clinician Improvement of competence of clinician through training and supervision Flexibility of approach Developing specific approaches and/or interventions depending on alliance

46 Aim of good alliance/interaction Engagement? Adherence? Change of symptoms and behaviour? Is the alliance the basis of effective treatment, or can it be effective treatment in itself?

47 Potential methods to achieve symptom/behavioural change in psychiatric settings Poor man’s brief psychotherapy (e.g. dynamic or CBT) Client centered (Rogerian) Motivational interviewing Problem solving Solution oriented

48 DIALOG - Intervention Keyworker ask patients 11 questions about satisfaction with life domains and treatment and wishes for additional/different help Ratings are displayed on hand held computer and compared with previous ratings Randomised controlled trial in six European countries

49 Results Intervention leads to better subjective quality of life, fewer needs and higher treatment satisfaction Medium effect size in patients with more problematic baseline scores

50 Why? Interaction is more: structured? patient centered? forward looking and solution focused? As a consequence: better alliance? earlier and more appropriate interventions? different psychological interventions?

51 Challenge for research (I) Disentangle complex processes in qualitative and quantitative research Develop methods to evaluate distinctive steps (e.g. shared decision making) Model, optimise and test interventions Specify patient characteristics (e.g. preferences) and therapeutic situations benefiting from different interventions

52 Challenge for research (II) Explore how alliances may be associated with family and community relationships of patients Identify methods to improve behaviour of clinicians using personal strengths and/or increasing flexibility

53 Challenge for Psychiatry Emphasise therapeutic alliance to strengthen professional status/qualification Implement better training, on-going supervision and proper evaluation Develop psychiatry specific models for interventions to improve engagement, achieve adherence and induce symptom change Exploit the potentially wide impact of generic interventions in the alliance

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