Client Versus Clinicians’ Standards of Clinically Meaningful Change and the Effects of Treatment Expectations on Therapeutic Outcomes in Individuals With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Sheradyn R. Matthews, Marja Elizabeth, Larissa N. Roberts, Reginald D.V. Nixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

There is limited research on the concordance between client perceptions and clinician standards of the degree of symptom change required to achieve meaningful therapeutic improvement. This was investigated in an adult sample (N = 147) who received trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapies for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We examined whether clients’ benchmarks of change were related to actual outcomes and the relationship between client expectations and their treatment outcomes. Clients completed measures indexing the level of symptom reduction required (in their view) to reflect a benefit or recovery from treatment and treatment expectations. Actual PTSD severity was indexed pre- and posttreatment via self-report and clinician-administered interview. Results demonstrated that the amount of change clients said they required to experience a benefit or recovery was significantly larger than typical clinical research standards. Nonetheless, the majority of client benchmarks of change (79.7–81.8%) were consistent with clinical research standards of what constitutes benefit or recovery. Client benchmarks were generally positively correlated with their actual outcomes. Clients’ belief that treatment would be successful was associated with greater reductions in PTSD symptoms. These findings provide preliminary evidence that the standards used to determine clinically significant change are somewhat consistent with clients’ own perceptions of required symptom change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-570
Number of pages11
JournalBehavior Therapy
Volume53
Issue number3
Early online date28 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Keywords

  • benchmark
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • concordance
  • reliable change
  • treatment expectations

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