The authors compared outcomes reported by patients who did or did not return for treatment after an initial psychotherapy visit.
Members of a group health plan were surveyed about initial psychotherapy visits occurring between March and September 2010. The survey assessed satisfaction with care and therapeutic alliance during the visit and later clinical improvement.
Of the 2,666 members who returned surveys, 906 (34%) did not return for a second visit within 45 days. The distribution of satisfaction, therapeutic alliance, and self-rated improvement scores between patients who did and did not return differed significantly (p<.001). Patients who did not return were more likely to report the most favorable and the least favorable outcomes.
Failure to return after an initial psychotherapy visit can represent successful and satisfying treatment. Systematic outreach and outcome assessment are necessary to identify the patients who drop out of therapy after unsuccessful and unsatisfying treatment. (Psychiatric Services 63:705–707, 2012; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201100309)