Measuring Outcomes of Real-World Youth Psychotherapy: Whom to Ask and What to Ask?

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To illustrate complexities in outcomes measurement for youths receiving community-based mental health services, this column presents data on 112 youths in publicly funded, usual-care psychotherapy. Youths and their parents separately completed standard measures of outcomes in three domains—symptoms, functioning, and family environment—at baseline and at six months. The results indicate minimal agreement between youths and parents on individual outcome domains and almost no overlap for each informant (youth and parent) across multiple domains. These findings are especially relevant because service providers are increasingly required to demonstrate treatment effectiveness and monitor youths' progress. The results highlight the complexities in measuring the impact of care and indicate the need to develop more feasible methods to measure multidimensional outcomes.

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