Thanks to the digital decision-making tool TREAT, it is easier to offer people with severe psychological complaints the right help, especially when it comes to physical problems. This is what Lukas Roebroek shows in the PhD thesis he will defend on 24 March. As part of his research at Lentis, he developed the TREAT application, which makes it possible to see at a glance what care a patient needs. What did it show? Because of the overview, therapists and patients talk more about the complaints, and physical problems in particular are treated better.
People with severe psychological problems such as psychoses often need many different types of care. For example, they need help with the symptoms associated with their illness, such as anxiety and hearing voices. But they may also suffer from physical problems, such as obesity, or may need help with psychosocial issues, such as daytime activities or social contacts. In order to determine what care is needed, patients are screened annually by means of questionnaires, interviews and blood tests. However, the resulting data is extensive and there is no good way of making the data transparent. 'We wondered: can we develop something that makes it easier to use that data?' says Roebroek.
Roebroek therefore developed TREAT. The tool groups all data from the screening and shows which care needs a patient has. TREAT distinguishes 23 care needs, divided into three domains: symptoms, physical and psychosocial. The care needs and the corresponding treatment protocols are then compiled in TREAT. The application shows at a glance what care needs exist, how they are measured and what the appropriate treatment is. This way, the practitioner and the patient can look together at what care needs exist and discuss possible next steps.
The next question is of course: what effect does this have in practice? Roebroek wanted to know whether therapists worked differently now that all data were clear, and whether patients experienced the discussions about their treatment differently. Roebroek also wanted to see whether patients felt they had a greater say in their treatment. Roebroek had 30 treatment providers at four institutions in the North (Lentis, GGZ Drenthe, GGZ Friesland and University Centre Psychiatry) work with TREAT and compared how the contact before, during and after the use of TREAT developed.
Roebroek's study shows that the application did not have a significant effect on patients' assessments: they were already very positive, and that did not change when their therapists started working with TREAT. What did stand out was that significantly more care needs were discussed: there was an increase of more than 20%. In addition, more evidence-based treatments were suggested. The increase was mainly seen in the physical care needs. Good news, according to Roebroek. The physical complaints that patients may have were not always discussed enough and, as a result, patients did not always receive the care they needed. 'With TREAT, we can ensure that precisely these physical complaints are not overlooked.' Roebroek hopes that the tool will be further developed and used more often in the future.
Lukas Roebroek will defend his thesis on 24 March at 12:45. More information.
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