CBT in the heart of Cardiff. New Research: CBT is helpful for people who frequent their GP’s.

People with long term health conditions who have a history of going to the GP frequently over two or more years could benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) according to new research at The University of Nottingham.

The rather unique investigation, published in the British Journal of General Practice, found that a course of CBT in a sample cohort of suitable patients more than halved the number of visits they made to the GP or practice nurse over six months and reduced it further in the next six months.

Professor of Psychiatry and Community Mental Health, Richard Morriss, said: “Demand for primary care and GP consultation rates has increased by more than 20 per cent in the past 20 years. A minority of patients are consistently in the top 10 per cent of frequent GP consulters and often visit their doctor seeking reassurance about their long term health conditions.

“CBT has already been proven to work in people who frequently attend medical out-patient consultations so we wanted to test the feasibility and acceptability of cognitive behaviour therapy to help some primary care patients and look at the evidence for its clinical and cost effectiveness. Eighty-seven patients agreed to be assessed for suitability to take part in the study. 32 patients undertook CBT over a three month period with most attending at least six sessions. 86 per cent of them were happy with the treatment and valued sharing their physical and mental health concerns with a CBT practitioner and developing coping strategies. Just over half of the participants achieved clinically significant improvements in their mental health and their visits to the GP or practice nurse reduced from an average of eight in three months, to three visits in three months at one year after the CBT intervention”.

The report concludes that CBT seems to be feasible and acceptable to this subset of long-term frequent attenders in primary care. With improved patient recruitment strategies, the research team says this approach could contribute to decreasing GP workload and is worth investigating and evaluating on a larger scale.

Dr. Paul Rogers – CBT in the heart of Cardif