a1 Warneford Hospital, Oxford
One way of trying to minimize the problems arising from long waiting lists for psychological treatment is to see patients for assessment soon after referral, with the aims of making some contact, helping to reduce demoralization, and perhaps providing some practical coping advice. There is some evidence that such procedure may produce better outcomes in subsequent treatment, but also relevant is how people feel about these procedures and whether they meet patients' perceived needs. This paper reports some data on these questions. The data suggest that such an early contact procedure was strongly preferred by patients, but less strongly by therapists, particularly if the therapist treating a patient was not the same person who made the early contact. What patients liked about the early contact seemed to be mainly “non-specific” components such as reduced isolation and increased understanding. As such procedures seem to produce at least as good outcomes, and are preferred by patients, it is suggested that they should be the treatment of choice for clinics with long waiting lists.
Reprint requests to David Westbrook, Clinical Psychology Department, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK.