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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Methodological Challenges of Characterizing Usual Care Psychotherapeutic Practice

  • Author(s): Garland, Ann F.
  • Hurlburt, Michael S.
  • Brookman-Frazee, Lauren
  • Taylor, Robin M.
  • Accurso, Erin C.
  • et al.

There is minimal existing research providing detailed, reliable data characterizing usual community-based psychotherapy practice, and, thus, limited established methods for such research. This article identifies methodological challenges of usual care descriptive research, including, (a) general design considerations, (b) measurement, (c) data analytic, and (d) ethical challenges. Case examples drawn from studies reported in this special issue are used to illustrate the implications, strengths, and weaknesses of different methodological decisions. Central themes include achieving an acceptable balance of scientific rigor, feasibility, and generalizable practice relevance, as well as working collaboratively with practice partners to select and implement study methods.

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