For most Americans, the medical motto “First of all, don’t hurt” is both familiar and uncontroversial.Mental health care professionals Subscribe to similar codeBut looking around the science and public discussions about psychological interventions—making you feel better, encouraging healthier choices, and plans to treat mental health problems—you hardly notice possible harm. The late psychologist Scott Lilienfeld tried to raise awareness of the risk of injury in his article.Psychotherapy that causes harm,” in which he determined a provisional list of “potentially harmful therapies” (PHT) that should be reconsidered. However, the scientific research on PHT in the field of psychology has become complicated The credibility of published research.
The factors that make research credible—that is, scientifically credible and persuasive— vary from researcher to researcher. However, in the past decade, the psychology research community has realized that disturbing signs often appear in the scientific literature, well, existCredible.Some warning signs are obvious, such as Published claims for ultra-sensory perception with Dramatic examples of scientific fraud. Other low credibility warning signs are more subtle and/or technical, but include:
Psychologists use Small sample size It cannot be expected that this will produce reliable information about the effects of psychological interventions.
Although the sample is small, psychologists almost always (More than 90% of the time) Report the statistical results of the psychological interventions they claim to support them.
Psychologists often include “Statistics Typos” In their published research (e.g., The number of participants Not “add up”,need correct or withdraw When detected).
In light of this development, our research team wants to know: The impact of these research literatures indicates whether PHT is beneficial or harmful, and how credible is the reported research?Our discovery is Recently Published In the magazine Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice.
We have collected the data (over 70) of PHT we can find from each randomized controlled trial (a study used in medicine to determine whether a drug or vaccine is effective); in total, we reviewed more than 500 PHT statistical tests. Then, we extracted and analyzed low-reliability warning signs from each study; therefore, you can treat our paper as a “reliability report card” that contains each PHT.
What did we find? First of all, the good news is that statistical spelling errors are very rare in published PHT studies. In addition, the literature supporting grief counseling—a specific PHT designed to help the client cope with the death of a loved one—seems to support its effectiveness and is reasonably credible.
However, many of our findings are worrying. For example, although it is encouraging that statistical typos in these documents are rare, this may be related to the fact that few statistics are reported (less than 20%) and the necessary information is provided to verify their correctness! In addition, most of the studies we reviewed involve comparing PHT with no treatment at all, which is actually the weakest standard of comparison and may overstate the effectiveness of PHT.
Most importantly, in our analysis, there are two interventions that are more likely to be harmful than beneficial:
Critical incident stress report, In this case, people who have experienced extreme stress events (such as paramedics or firefighters) need to participate in group interventions shortly after the stressor occurs.
The Scared Straight program allows young offenders to come into contact with prisoners in actual prisons; prisoners try to scare them by describing the horrors of prison life.
Unfortunately, these two approaches are often touted by their developers, podcasts, and TV shows. Drug Resistance Education (DARE) same with Vigorously promoteDARE is a project that most millennials and Gen Z have come into contact with or have come into contact with. It involves a uniformed police officer teaching students about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. We found that the credibility of the DARE document was average, and its influence indicated that it did nothing at all. DARE had Millions of operating budgets And always Deployed on world. The resources dedicated to it could have been used for projects that really benefited the learning and well-being of students.
Our research shows that as a supplier or Consumers of psychological intervention are tricky. Unlike the FDA for drugs, medical devices, and vaccines, no government agency judges that psychotherapy is safe. Therefore, relevant personnel not only need to consider the potential help of psychotherapy, but also need to consider the possibility of harm.To make these considerations more difficult, suppliers and consumers need to be aware of what has been published about Helpful with Harmfulness Psychological intervention is not always credible. We believe that in the future, more consumers of psychological interventions need to safely ask providers what scientific evidence they have to prove the usefulness and harmfulness of specific interventions.At the same time, mental health providers can benefit from increased attention to the possibility of harm, while learning to discover some more direct warning signs existTrustworthy research.
This is an opinion and analysis article; opinions expressed Author or author Not necessarily those Scientific american.