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Abstract Background Despite evidence for the general effectiveness of psychological therapies, there exists substantial heterogeneity in patient outcomes. We aimed to identify factors associated with baseline severity of depression and anxiety symptoms, rate of symptomatic change over the course of therapy, and symptomatic recovery in a primary mental health care setting. Methods Using data from a service evaluation involving 35 527 patients in England's psychological and wellbeing [Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)] services, we applied latent growth models to explore which routinely-collected sociodemographic, clinical, and therapeutic variables were associated with baseline symptom severity and rate of symptomatic change. We used a multilevel logit model to determine variables associated with symptomatic recovery. Results Being female, younger, more functionally impaired, and more socioeconomically disadvantaged was associated with higher baseline severity of both depression and anxiety symptoms. Being older, less functionally impaired, and having more severe baseline symptomatology was associated with more rapid improvement of both depression and anxiety symptoms (male gender and greater socioeconomic disadvantage were further associated with rate of change for depression only). Therapy intensity and appointment frequency seemed to have no correlation with rate of symptomatic improvement. Patients with lower baseline symptom severity, less functional impairment, and older age had a greater likelihood of achieving symptomatic recovery (as defined by IAPT criteria). Conclusions We must continue to investigate how best to tailor psychotherapeutic interventions to fit patients’ needs. Patients who begin therapy with more severe depression and/or anxiety symptoms and poorer functioning merit special attention, as these characteristics may negatively impact recovery.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychological Medicine


Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Publication Date



1 - 10