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Testing mental health treatments in countries affected by conflict

18 May 2017

Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression impact heavily on civilian populations in countries affected by conflict. Treating such disorders has been a focus of the World Health Organisation, including using tools developed by researchers at King’s College London, which test the effectiveness of such treatments.

This turns traditional outcome measurement on its head

Dr Mark Ashworth, co-creator of the Psychological Outcome Profiles tool

The Psychological Outcome Profiles tool (PSYCHLOPS) is given to people before and after a psychological intervention to measure how effective it has been. Researchers developed the tool by working with patients who told them what questions should be included and what should be discarded – so it only measures those things which the patients described as important to themselves.

‘PSYCHLOPS turns traditional outcome measurement on its head. Instead of measuring what experts consider important, PSYCHLOPS only measures problems which patients rank as their own priority,’ said Dr Mark Ashworth a co-creator of the tool from the Division of Health and Social Care Research.

Capturing universal human experience

A recent study in the conflict-affected city of Peshawar in Pakistan, used measures including PSYCHLOPS to test the effectiveness of their behavioural intervention for adults with anxiety and depression. The study, published in JAMA, found their treatment produced meaningful reductions in anxiety and depressive symptoms after three months.

Since the King’s researchers made the tool freely available, it has been used in conflict settings including Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon and East Africa.

‘This is an exciting time for our team – the growing global impact of PSYCHLOPS is testament to its ability to capture universal human experience’ said Dr Maria Kordowicz a co-creator of the tool from the Division of Health and Social Care Research.

‘PSYCHLOPS is excellent to use in challenging settings, because it’s quick, well validated, translated into several languages, and feasible for use by trained field workers as well as health professionals,’ Dr Kordowicz explained. 

Find out more about the Psychological Outcome Profiles tool by visiting the website.

Image credit: iStock, AshleyWiley

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