Lunes, 09 Octubre 2017 09:32

Scientific disagreement regarding psychological treatments

20171009Psicología 20171009Psicología UCC+i


An UCO research team highlights differences in the psychological treatments recommended for certain mental disorders depending on the reference organisation consulted, thus revealing a degree of scientific disagreement regarding the efficacy of the therapies concerned

Lack of consensus appears to be the common denominator in the treatments used at present for certain mental disorders. At international level there is little agreement among specialists on how to combat certain pathologies. How can recommendations regarding the treatment of depression or anxiety disorders vary so much depending on the scientific and professional bodies consulted?

Investigadores responsables del análisis

A research group at the University of Córdoba has examined this situation in a study which questions a long list of the treatments for mental disorders most widely used by international organisations. Why do treatment recommendations for the same disorder vary so much between countries? Why are there so many discrepancies between professional bodies? In seeking to answer these questions, the research group – led by UCO professor Juan Antonio Moriana and including Mario Gálvez-Lara and Jorge Corpas – carried out an in-depth analysis of evidence-based treatments recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Division 12 (Clinical Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA), Cochrane and the Australian Psychological Society (APS) in relation to mental disorders in adults.The study, published in the Clinical Psychology Review, highlights a lack of agreement between organisations regarding the most effective therapies for treating certain disorders. For example, none of the 23 evidence-based psychological treatments for depression is backed by any of the four institutions analysed in the study. The analysis also showed that the greatest degree of agreement was recorded for therapies to treat general anxiety, specific phobias, bulimia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorders. The highest degree of consensus between organisations was noted for therapies based on behavioural cognitive models (therapies focussing on the relationship between thought and behaviour).   

As Professor Moriana explains, at present most mental health services throughout the world currently regard evidence-based psychological treatments as best practice for dealing with mental disorders. However, the results of this study raise doubts on this issue, and on the extent to which this practice is as valid as it appears. Are there other interests involved? The researchers conclude that discrepancies between organisations are due to the use of different evaluation criteria, to the conflicting findings of the studies on which organisations base their recommendations, and to the highly-unbalanced updating of treatment lists.   

The research team argues that it is clearly necessary to achieve greater consensus regarding the way treatments for mental disorders are evaluated, to unify the criteria that reconcile the realities of clinical practice with a scientific perspective, and to ensure greater precision in both cases. 


 Moriana, JA; Galvez-Lara, M; Corpas, J. (2017) Psychological treatments for mental disorders in adults: A review of the evidence of leading international organizations. CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW, 54,29-43


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