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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 58 (2016) 10, 751 - 758

Short report

Comparison of efficacy of psychiatric treatment versus treatment in general medicine

L.M. Bijkersma-Pot, P. Cuijpers, A.T.F. Beekman, R.A. Schoevers

background There is increasing attention to the costs and efficacy of health care and in particular to psychiatry. To weigh the costs and benefits appropriately, it is important to be able to compare effects.
aim To describe the efficacy of psychiatric treatment compared to treatment in general medicine.
method Narrative review.
results The average effect size of psychiatric treatment was 0.49 and that of general medicine treatment 0.45. The effect size of psychotherapy varied from 0.3 - 0.84, but in a meta-analysis, corrected for publication bias, the effect size average amounted to only 0.39.
conclusion The average efficacy of psychiatric treatments is similar to the efficacy of treatments in general medicine. However, there is a large variation in efficacy within the two treatment areas. The variation is even larger in the treatment results for individual patients. The main objective of ‘personalised medicine’ is to tailor the type of treatment to the particular symptoms of the individual patient so that he or she will not be exposed to types of treatment that are not strictly relevant to the patient’s symptoms or illness. In view of the limited and less-than-perfect results of treatment and medication in the entire medical field, ‘personalised medicine’ seems to be a goal worth striving for in order to improve treatment outcomes.

keywords efficacy of treatment, general medicine, psychiatry