A guide to outcome measurement in psychiatry
Ryland H., Carlile J., Kingdon D.
Measuring outcomes is becoming an increasingly standard (and highly complex) part of what mental health services are expected to do. Practising psychiatrists will need to have a good understanding of approaches to outcome measurement: used well, they have the potential to amplify the patient voice, promote good-quality services and facilitate research. We discuss what constitutes an outcome measure, the different ways that such measures can be obtained and the mechanisms for assessing the quality and appropriateness of an outcome measure. We outline the rapidly evolving research and policy context regarding outcome measurement, with particular reference to the UK's National Health Service. We also consider the potential pitfalls to outcome measurement, such as added clinical burden, inappropriate incentivisation of behaviour and incorrect interpretation of results. We discuss ways that such difficulties can be avoided or their effects mitigated.