Department of General… Research Research areas




The reform of the psychotherapy guideline in 2016 has created new additional treatment services in the outpatient psychotherapy sector, such as open consultation hours and easier access to acute treatment. The reform was aimed at reducing the often long waiting times for psychotherapy.

The study evaluates at the service provider level (psychotherapists and general practitioners) to what extent the goals of the reform of outpatient psychotherapy in general have been achieved. A special focus will be on patients who suffer from at least one chronic physical condition in addition to a mental disorder ("complex patients"). These patients were previously underserved but heavily burdened and in need of urgent treatment. Therefore, we expect that the reform should benefit this group of patients in particular.

Within the framework of a sequential explorative mixed-method design, different perspectives and methodological approaches are combined. The aim is to examine how the new services are adopted by psychotherapists and how this affects the primary care of patients with complex and non-complex illnesses.

The initial focus groups with psychotherapists and general practitioners (n = 40 each) serve to elaborate relevant aspects of the implementation process of the new service elements. The results from the focus groups will then be used to develop a questionnaire which will be sent to a representative sample of GPs and psychotherapists (n = 1,200 each) in Germany. In order to illustrate how psychotherapists apply the new services (consultation hours, acute treatment and relapse prevention) to patients with and without complex disorders, psychotherapists will be recruited from the survey participants and interviewed to provide information on therapeutic decisions, techniques used and experience gained. Direct observation methods are also applied to complete the assessments on current and best practice.

The project is part of a network supported by the GBA's Innovation Fund, in which a comprehensive evaluation of the psychotherapy reform is pursued. Further project partners (Gießen, Münster, Göttingen) will investigate at other levels (patient level, service provider level and cost level) and by means of additional data sources (patient surveys, analysis of routine data) effects of the psychotherapy reform. In a final step, the degree of achievements and proposals for the further development of outpatient psychotherapeutic care will be derived.

Project manager

Working group:
Mechthild Hartmann, Beate Wild, Martin Hegelow, Milena Borchers, Regina Poß-Doering (Department of General Medicine and Health Services Research)

Cooperation/association partners:
Johannes Kruse (University Hospital Gießen), Thomas Grobe (AQua- Institut), Gereon Heuft (University Hospital Münster), Ursula Marschall (BARMER), Joachim Szecsenyi (Department of General Medicine and Health Services Research, University Hospital Heidelberg)

Duration: 6/2020 - 5/2022

Supported by: