Psychotherapy readiness domains as predictors of psychotherapy outcome in trauma-affected refugees

Elsevier, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 325, 2023, Pages 248-255
Berglind Bernardsdóttir, Hinuga Sandahl, Jessica Carlsson, Erik Lykke Mortensen, Sabina Palic

Little is known about predictors of psychotherapy outcome in trauma-affected refugees. Knowledge on outcome predictors can help clinicians identify patients prior to treatment who are not likely to benefit from standardized psychotherapy and take additional measures to adjust treatment to the individual patient. Given the dynamic nature of psychotherapy readiness domains, they represent potential targets to be worked with in therapy in order to improve outcomes.

Psychotherapy readiness domains (locus of control, cognitive functioning, motivation for therapy, and personality functioning) were examined as potential predictors of psychotherapy outcome in trauma-affected refugees. Secondary analyses were conducted on data from a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Study participants (N = 190) were refugees with PTSD who received flexible manual-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) at a psychiatric outpatient clinic in Denmark. Psychotherapy readiness domains were assessed via semi-structured interviews at the beginning of psychotherapy. Outcome variables were pre-post change in PTSD symptomology and global level of functioning.

Multiple regression analyses revealed that higher motivation for psychotherapy predicted improvement in PTSD symptomology and global level of functioning. Moreover, higher cognitive functioning predicted improvement in global level of functioning.

The predictor rating scales need further psychometric evaluations in cross-cultural contexts.

These findings highlight the importance of considering motivation in psychotherapy offered to trauma-affected refugees. Further research is needed to identify potential barriers to motivation in this diverse patient population and to determine whether motivational interventions can lead to improved treatment outcomes.