In the pharmaceutical industry, direct to consumer (DTC) advertisements have proven to be a highly effective, albeit extremely controversial, way of raising patient awareness of available treatments. Researchers from Boston University and Ryerson University extended this logic to the “marketing” of psychological treatments in the first ever randomized controlled trial of commercial materials promoting psychotherapy. The researchers randomized around 350 students to view one of four commercial campaigns via the Internet across three weekly viewing sessions. The videos, which can be found here, were short (30-second) campaigns describing the efficacy of psychotherapy, the efficacy of medications, or a neutral video campaign. What they found was that participants who watched the commercials describing the effects of psychotherapy were more likely to report being willing to seek psychotherapy. The study authors noted how few individuals who are in need of services are actually getting treatment. These types of short interventions could be used to reduce the public health burden of mental disorders and the stigma of receiving psychotherapy.
Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR)
Marna S. Barrett, Ph.D.
Mood & Anxiety Disorders Treatment Research Unit
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
3535 Market St., Suite 670
Philadelphia, PA 19104