There is a great need for mental health treatment in low-income countries that have limited mental health personnel.
The implementation of interventions by lay health workers may be one solution.
A team led by investigators from University of Liverpool tested the efficacy of a brief intervention for psychological distress delivered by lay providers in Pakistan.
Participants were 346 adults (79% women) with psychological distress and functional impairment recruited from three primary care clinics in Pakistan.
Patients were randomized to an intervention based on established problem-solving and behavioral techniques, Problem Management Plus (n = 172), or an enhanced usual care condition (n = 174) consisting of contact with a primary care physician trained in mental health issues.
Lay health workers who had no previous mental health background delivered the intervention in 5 weekly 90-minute sessions.
Participants were assessed 1 week and 3 months following treatment.
Compared with enhanced usual care, participants who received the intervention had greater improvements in PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, and functioning (effect sizes at 3 months ranged from .6 to .9).
By showing that lay workers can successfully implement effective psychological interventions even in a challenging, high-conflict environment, these findings offer hope for increased access to mental health care for trauma survivors around the world.
Read the article: https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2016.17165
Rahman, A., Hamdani, S. U., Awan, N. R., Bryant, R. A., Dawson, K. S., Khan, M. F., ... van Ommeren, M. (2016). Effect of a multicomponent behavioral intervention in adults impaired by psychological distress in a conflict-affected area of Pakistan: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA. Advance online publication. PILOTS ID: 45815