Many psychotherapies are useless and expensive

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Billions in costs from wrong psychotherapeutic treatments

The healthcare system incurs billions of dollars a year from the wrong therapeutic treatment of mental illnesses. Experts call for improved success controls and increased transparency in the quality of the therapists.

The researchers interviewed as part of the research on a contribution to the topic of psychotherapy in “Welt am Sonntag” came to the unanimous conclusion that at least five billion euros a year are wasted in the health system due to the incorrect treatment of mental illnesses, reports “Welt Online”. According to the news portal, the calculations of the renowned experts point to significant grievances in the field of psychotherapeutic treatment.

A quarter of psychotherapies unsuccessful The number of patients with mental illnesses has risen steadily in recent years, whereby the increasing social pressure to perform and stress, according to the experts, have made a significant contribution to the increase in mental disorders. However, the willingness to seek professional help for mental health problems has increased significantly in recent decades. How the subsequent psychotherapeutic treatment turns out, according to the current report from "Welt Online", is not only determined by the problems of the patients, but often depends on coincidences such as the place of residence, the preferences of the doctor or psychotherapist for certain therapy methods "and sometimes also the profit interests of a practice or clinic ”. Referring to numerous scientific studies, the news portal reports that about one in four patients who are being treated for mental health problems do not improve the therapy. In every tenth the mental state worsens even in the course of therapy. This results in wasted billions in the healthcare system. According to the "World" report, the wrong treatments should cost at least five billion euros, with the Bochum psychology professor Jürgen Margraf emphasizing to the newspaper that he "would rather set the amount even higher", "at least if one considers the consequences Includes people's ability to work. "

Controlling soul healing required? According to the experts interviewed as part of the article, the main shortcoming in psychotherapeutic treatments is that there are no effective success controls and the quality of the therapists is not transparent to the patients. Similar to the doctor navigators recently set up at some statutory health insurance companies - online portals for doctor evaluation - a comparable project should provide years ago for more transparency in the field of soul medicine. However, the central recording of patient experience in a database planned by the Federal Ministry of Health failed and so the quality of treatment for the patient in the run-up to the therapy is hardly visible to this day. Especially since there are no institutionalized supervisory bodies at the level of the medical associations. Even in the course of psychotherapeutic treatment, it is usually "not possible to see how good a therapist is for patients," the Bernese psychotherapy researcher Franz Caspar told the "Welt am Sonntag".

Mental health a major cost factor in the health care system How many patients with mental health problems actually have doubts about the treatment quality of their therapist has been demonstrated by a pilot project conducted by the Independent Patient Counseling Service (UPD) last year, in which a telephone hotline for complaints regarding psychotherapeutic treatment was set up for five months. The rush was unexpectedly high and the UPD was "overwhelmed" by the high number of inquiries, the expert of independent patient advice, Anne Dietel, told the "Welt am Sonntag". Most of those affected did not complain about “the effectiveness of the treatment”, but were dissatisfied “with the therapist or the way in which the treatment was carried out,” emphasized the UPD expert. As the above figures on unsuccessful or counterproductive psychotherapeutic treatments illustrate, the dissatisfaction of many patients is justified at this point. Improved controlling in the area of ​​the treatment of mental problems seems to be urgently needed. Not least because the therapy of mental suffering is one of the most cost-intensive items in the German healthcare system today. In the roughly 30 billion euros that were spent on therapies, medical practices, clinics and staff in the publicly financed health care system in Germany last year, mental illness is the second most important cost factor after heart diseases, reports “Welt Online”. The success with which the funds are used should therefore urgently be better controlled and also clearly demonstrated for patients. (fp)

Image: Gerd Altmann /

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