Outcomes of Acute Partial Hospital Treatment: Comparison of Two Programs and a Waiting List Control

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Abstract

Objective:

To investigate the effectiveness of acute, very brief partial hospital treatment, and the comparative benefits of different types of partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), this exploratory study examined changes in psychiatric symptoms and elements of cognitive functioning during an acute PHP compared with a waiting list control, and also compared such changes in 2 PHPs that treated similar patient groups but used different treatment approaches.

Methods:

Patients were admitted to 2 PHPs, one utilizing cognitive-behavioral therapy and the other interpersonal and existential psychotherapy. Assessments were collected at the start of a waiting list control period, as well as at admission to and discharge from the PHP. In both programs, patients completed self-report assessments of anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory), depression (Beck Depression Inventory), hopelessness (Beck Hopelessness Scale), and resilience (Dispositional Resilience Scale) at admission and discharge; a subset of cognitive-behavioral therapy patients completed the same measures while on a waiting list.

Results:

During acute partial hospitalization (mean length of stay, 5.3±3.0 d), patients (N=2000) improved significantly (Cohen d=0.39 to 1.1) on all 4 measures of symptom severity and cognitive functioning. Although some changes were observed in the subjects on the 2-week waiting list, they were less than during a 1-week PHP admission. No significant differences in outcomes were found between the 2 PHPs.

Conclusions:

Across 2 different acute PHPs, significant reductions in symptom severity and improvements in elements of cognitive functioning were observed. Findings indicate that acute PHP treatment may produce moderate-sized treatment effects in a 1-week period that seem unrelated to specific psychotherapeutic methods.

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