The NHS has created a talking therapy service called Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) to help people with depression and anxiety. IAPT has recently been offered to people with long-term physical disorders that have depression and anxiety. We do not know, however, whether brief talking therapies are helpful for depression and anxiety in people with multiple long-term physical disorders.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to changes in the method of IAPT delivery, with face-to-face/in-person therapy shifting to delivery online and by telephone. This may enhance engagement and improve clinical outcomes, but there are concerns that these methods of delivery may further widen inequalities in access and outcomes. People with live experience of physical disorders in our team told us that it is important to identify talking therapies that help people with specific long-term physical disorders stay well for longer.
Using deidentified electronic medical files of thousands of people from across England we will:
- Look at medical files from different healthcare organisations to understand which talking therapy is more effective for treatment of depression and anxiety in people with multiple physical disorders;
- Investigate how poor access to talking therapies during the COVID-19 pandemic has long-term adverse impact on depression and anxiety in these people; and
- Assess how people living with multiple physical disorders access talking therapy services, whether they are helpful, and how they can be improved.
The findings will inform the NHS about ways to improve access to effective talking therapies to people with physical health disorders. People with physical and mental health disorders will benefit from information on which talking therapy provides the best possible outcomes in terms of both physical and mental wellbeing.