EQUITy is a five-year programme of research, which aims to improve the way that psychological interventions are delivered over the telephone. The programme is being led by Professors Penny Bee and Peter Bower at the University of Manchester, and involves a consortium of researchers across a number of UK universities, including other collaborators at the University of York (Dean McMillan, Simon Gilbody).
Telephone therapy is one of the recommended ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)’ services offered by the NHS to help people with depression and anxiety. However, despite a strong evidence base, a significant number of people are not starting or finishing telephone treatment, which means that they are not getting all the help they need.
The overarching aim of EQUITy is to increase patient engagement with their IAPT programme, and to enhance the clinical (and cost-) effectiveness of telephone-delivered psychological interventions in primary care. This will be achieved by working closely with patients and their families, IAPT services and mental health professionals across 4 core research sites (Manchester, Sheffield, York and Cambridge).
As part of the study, we are using the methodology of Conversation Analysis to understand how patients and practitioners (known in IAPT as Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners or PWPs) communicate with each other during telephone assessment appointments and telephone therapy sessions. This will involve detailed and systematic analysis of the conversation between PWPs and patients at early stages of the intervention process.
Our findings will contribute to the development of a multi-component intervention to improve the quality of telephone delivered services, including the preliminary development of a new smartphone app.