Decreasing treatment dropout by addressing expectations for treatment length

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Dr. Joshua SwiftUAA Psychology Professor Dr. Joshua Swift published a study in the May 2011 issue of Psychotherapy Research that addressed client duration expectations and treatment dropout rates. He found that by simply addressing a client's expectations for treatment length, they are three times less likely to discontinue treatment prematurely. He is currently in the planning and set up stages of running a similar study in the United Kingdom.

Concurrent to his published study, Dr. Swift also recently presented a paper to the American Psychological Association that examined rates of psychotherapy dropout across 669 published studies. "The most recent previous meta-analysis included only 125 studies published up until 1990 and it estimated the dropout rate to be around 50 percent," Dr. Swift says. "With this larger sample of studies published since that time, we found that only about 20 percent of clients actually dropout prematurely. This rate differs depending on a number of treatment, setting, and client variables, but it is much lower than what was previously thought. This meta-analysis provides evidence for the acceptability and effectiveness of psychotherapy and counseling as interventions for mental health disorders and problems."

More of Dr. Swift's work can be found at

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