Scaling up quality-assured psychotherapy: the role of therapist competence on perinatal depression and anxiety outcomes

Publication type
Journal article
Singla DR, Puerto Nino AK, Zibaman M, Andrejek N, Hossain S, Cohen M, Dalfen A, Dennis CL
Date published
2023 Jul 01
General Hospital Psychiatry
Open Access?

Objectives: To examine: (1) the psychometric properties of two therapist competence measures-multiple choice questionnaire (MCQ) and standardized role-plays; (2) whether therapist competence differed between non-specialist (NSPs) and specialist (SPs) providers; and (3) the relations between therapist competence and patient outcomes among perinatal patients receiving brief psychotherapy. Methods: This study is embedded within the SUMMIT Trial-a large, ongoing psychotherapy trial for perinatal women with depressive and anxiety symptoms. We assessed the: (1) psychometric properties of therapist competence measures using Cronbach's alpha and inter-class correlation; (2) differences in therapist competence scores between n = 23 NSPs and n = 22 SPs using a two-sample t-test; and (3) relations between therapist competence measures and perinatal patient outcomes through a linear regression model. Results: Internal consistency for role-play was acceptable (a = 0.71), whereas MCQ was excellent (a = 0.97). Role-play showed good inter-rater reliability (ICC = 0.80) and scores were higher for SPs compared with NSPs (t(2,38) = -2.86, p = 0.0069) and associated with outcomes of anxiety (B = 1.52, SE = 0.60, p = 0.01) and depressive (B = 0.96, SE = 0.55, p = 0.08) symptom scores. Conclusions: Our study highlights the importance of demonstrating psychological treatment skills through standardized role-plays over knowledge-based competence to predict perinatal patient outcomes. Using well-defined evidence-based tools is critical for deploying NSPs to provide high-quality psychotherapy and increase accessibility to psychological treatments for perinatal populations worldwide.