Application of Research in Patient Care
In a clinical setting, clinicians who adopt treatments based on science engage in “evidence-based practice” (EBP). Fidler (2010) defines EBP as the genuine, problem-solving approach to clinical practice, in which therapists apply the best evidence from approved scientific studies, patient concerns and values, and clinician’s experience to make patient care decisions. In this perspective, evidence-based treatment requires a therapist to integrate three components to guide the decision-making process: patient’s preference, best external evidence, and the individual counselor/therapist, practitioner/psychologist’s clinical expertise (LeCroy, 2008). The purpose of this reflective essay is to explain how therapists can apply research in order to guide patient care decision-making.
According to (LeCroy, 2008), not all EBP treatments suit a particular disorder. Thus, a clinician has the duty to choose the suitable evidence-based treatment depending on the patient’s needs and preferences. To effectively select evidence-based treatment, four steps are involved. First, a counselor needs to identify the patient’s concern, gather the baseline information, and develop treatment goals—for example, a client with depression. Second, the therapist needs to search for books, the internet, and other primary sources for EBP interventions which can help treat the patient. In the example of a client with depression, the counselor would find EBP treatment approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy; all of the EBP approaches are used to treat depression. Third, the counselor needs to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the intervention options (Wampold, 2011). Last, after understanding the merits and demerits associated with each intervention, the counselor then selects the suitable evidence-based treatment.
In selecting the evidence-base treatments, clinicians are required to search the internet, journals, books, and other primary resources that explain the different types of interventions (Fidler, 2010). Thus, qualitative and quantitative research reports, which are presented in these resources, help to guide in decision making. By combining both the quantitative and qualitative approaches, the clinician’s ability to assess and evaluate the different EBP treatments would improve. According to (Sheperis, Daniels, & Young, 2010), using qualitative and quantitative research reports ensures that the advantages of the other balance the disadvantages of one data-type. Thus, these two types of research reports provide a proper understanding of the different evidence-based treatments by integrating different knowledge grounds. In patient care decision-making, the quantitative approach facilitates optimal decision and correct selection of treatment interventions. According to (Wampold, 2011), quantitative research reports use statistical and mathematical models in conditions where all outcomes have uncertain probabilities. For example, in the case of depression, both CBT and exposure therapy are approved when it comes to its treatment. Thus, in many instances, in decision-making, quantitative research reports help clinicians solve complex patient care problems. Qualitative research reports, on the other hand, rely on numerous algorithms such as the nature and quality of patient data/information collected, factors that impact this data collection, risk assessment, and more (LeCroy, 2008). Thus, qualitative research reports enable clinicians to gain an in-depth understanding of the different EBT approaches, in terms of the risks involved, the strengths, weaknesses, side effects, and more. Thus, counselors rely on this scientific data to make appropriate patient care decisions.
In the counseling and psychological research field, there are those characteristics and attributes that define effective writing and publication of research. According to (Fidler, 2010), the American Psychological Association (APA) is tasked with the role to lay down categorical guidelines for writing and publishing counseling psychology research. According to the American Psychological Association 2008, counseling and psychological write-ups must offer readers with not only usable scientific data/information, but also sufficient and appropriate data for use in clinical settings. Also, writing and publication in counseling and psychology research require that the manuscripts be written in a manner that the introduction presents the significance and purpose of the article clearly (Fidler, 2010). Another critical characteristic, as enlisted by the American Counseling Association, is that abstracts must have a “reader-oriented” sentence at the start, written in a language where there is no ambiguity. In addition, persuasive writing and publication in counseling and psychological research must be written in a language that all professional counselors/ psychologists can easily understand, interpret, and apply the concept into real-life patient care situations. Also, according to the American Counseling Association 2008), counseling and psychological research must be concerned with “normal” problems instead of mental health disorders. This implies that counseling and psychological research write-ups are concerned with the function of a counselor or a patient in different environments whereby choices are to get made, and actions are to get taken (Fidler, 2010). Another critical characteristic of persuasive writing in the counseling psychology field is that the written research must be published in accordance to the rules, i.e., author, year of publishing, city, edition, publisher, and more. Also, the publication of counseling and psychology research is only done with the consent of the participants involved in the study. Otherwise, the American Psychological Association prohibits the publication of research without the participant’s and owners’ consent (LeCroy, 2008).
An excellent example of a diagnosis where research could assist a counselor in patient care and treatment is depression disorder. By using qualitative research, for example, the clinician would explore the EBT interventions, such as CBT and exposure therapy, which are used to treat patients before selecting the most appropriate one (Sheperis, Daniels, & Young, 2010). In this instance, the counselor would first identify the patient’s concerns as far as depression disorder is concerns. Data such as the existence of depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, for example, would be collected by the clinician to develop the patient’s treatment goals (LeCroy, 2008). Using the internet, the counselor would search for interventions, and in this case, the CBT and exposure therapy, and match them with the client’s concerns. Books, journals, and other articles contain manuals such as the DSM-5, which help counselors in the diagnostic process. By using the DSM-5 and other researches, it would be easier for the counselor to weigh the advantages and demerits of the two intervention options (Wampold, 2011). For example, CBT has more benefits than exposure therapy and fewer disadvantages compared to exposure therapy.
Thus, doing research enables a counselor to select the appropriate evidence-based treatment. In the case of depression diagnosis, the most appropriate EBT, as guided by research, is CBT.
Fidler, F. (2010). The American Psychological Association publication manual sixth edition: implications for statistics education. In Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Teaching Statistics, 7.
LeCroy, C. W. (2008). Handbook of evidence-based treatment manuals for children and adolescents. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sheperis, C. J., Daniels, H. M., & Young, S. J. (2010). Counseling Research: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson.
Wampold, B. E. (2011). Evidence-based treatments for depression and anxiety versus treatment-as-usual: a meta-analysis of direct comparisons. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(8), 4-12.