psychiatric treatment

The following article assesses a recent study done on the prevalence of refusing psychiatric treatment in patients who suffer from mental illnesses.


Psychiatric treatment is loosely defined as a series of methods to treat the mental illnesses of patients. Usually, this includes using therapy, medication, or combined methods in order to help the patient function properly and maintain stable mental health. A recent academic article titled “Treatment Refusal and Premature Termination in Psychotherapy, Pharmacotherapy, and Their Combination: A Meta-Analysis of Head-to-Head Comparisons” published in the journal Psychotherapy investigated the rates of treatment refusal or premature termination in patients using medication alone, psychotherapy alone, medication plus psychotherapy, or psychotherapy with a placebo medication. The anticipated goal of the research was to determine whether differences in rates of treatment refusal and premature termination exist between groups. Of the 186 studies reviewed, 57 reported data on treatment refusal and 182 on premature termination.

Analysis of the pooled data revealed that there was an average treatment refusal rate of 8.2%. Patients that were given pharmaceutical drugs alone were 1.76x more likely to refuse treatment than those who were assigned psychotherapy. For all studies, the patients, all above the age of 18, had one or more of the following mental illnesses: agoraphobia, bipolar disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, social anxiety disorder and other illnesses involving obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders such as anorexia and/or bulimia. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2015, there were an estimated 43.4 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with any mental illness within the past year. This number represented 17.9% of all U.S. adults. The following study included many mental illnesses that are among the most common in the United States of America today. So how will this change our approach to helping those who are suffering with these conditions?

The report states that the studies they reviewed did not frequently report the patient’s reason for treatment refusal or premature termination. This brought on the assumption that it is likely the patients may have failed to finish their treatment plans due to dissatisfaction with their treatment or lack of progress. There was also a correlation between a lower refusal rate and dropout rate amongst those who had therapy over those who only had used pharmaceutical drugs. In conclusion, one can take away from this that the best way for providers to provide the best possible treatment is by working to incorporate the patient’s preferences, values, and beliefs into the treatment decision-making process.


Written By: Jacqueline Suttin

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