According to the group of researchers, the effectiveness of psychotherapy used in treating major depressions is overstated.
According to the researchers, many psychologists have failed to submit their work for assessment of the effectiveness of the talk therapy and that 25 percent of the data is not published. If that data is considered and new report is published then results will be contrary to the popular belief, and will that show that psychotherapy is not effective in treating people with depression.
Steve Hollon, Gertude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Psychology, said “This doesn’t mean that psychotherapy doesn’t work. Psychotherapy does work. It just doesn’t work as well as you would think from reading the scientific literature.”
Hollon further said that this is because the clinical studies which have shown positive results regarding the treatment are mostly the ones that are getting published and the not so positive outcomes are overlooked. He said that he likes the process to “flipping a bunch of coins and only keeping the ones that come up heads.”
The researchers have gathered information on clinical trials of depression treatment from 1972 to 2008, where all these studies were funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. They found that about 25 percent of them were not published. So they have analyzed both the published and unpublished studies, and discovered that the effectiveness of psychotherapy in treating depression was actually overemphasized because of publication bias.
Erick Turner, study co-author and associate professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine, said that the process of choosing articles for journal publications has loopholes.
Turner said, “Journal articles are vetted through the process of peer review, but this process has loopholes, allowing treatment benefits to be overstated and potential harms to be understated. The consumers of this skewed information are health care providers and, ultimately, their patients.”
The authors wrote, “[W]e doubt that simple exhortations to authors or editors will do enough to change behavior. Instead, we join with others who recommend that funding agencies or journals should archive both original protocols and raw data from any funded randomized clinical trial.”
The findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS One.