Objectives: In the present paper, data from four German studies on the efficacy of outpatient psychoanalytic long-term psychotherapy were examined for symptom reduction (SCL-90-R) and reduction of interpersonal problems (IIP-D). Specifically, the research question addressed the efficacy of long-term therapy in specific diagnostic groups and was was compared with that of a parallel group who underwent shorter-term psychodynamic therapy.
Methods: Data from four German studies addressing the efficacy of outpatient psychoanalytic long-term therapy were collected. Evaluation of these data was carried for specific diagnostic groups allowing for comorbid diagnoses. The effects of psychoanalytic therapy were assessed by pre-post and pre-follow-up comparisons using paired t-tests. Additionally, effect sizes were calculated. Psychoanalytic long-term psychotherapy and shorter-term psychodynamic therapy were compared by using a repeated measure ANOVA: Pretreatment vs. posttreatment/follow-up (two-levels) with the between subject factor "therapy conditions" (two levels).
Results: The results showed that in terms of improvement of symptoms and interpersonal problems, psychoanalytic long-term therapy was at least as effective as shorter term psychodynamic therapy with regard to the following ICD-10 diagnostic groups: affective disorders (F3), anxiety disorders (F40; F41; F42), personality disorders (F60; F61; F62), and a group of mixed neurotic disorders (F43; F50; F51; F1; F55). Effect sizes were large and remained stable at follow-up.
Conclusions: The authors emphasize the clinical relevance of the examined diagnostic groups and relatively large effects achieved by the psychoanalytic treatment. Furthermore, the occurrence of comorbid diagnoses and their consequences are discussed. The authors stress that the specific effects of psychoanalytic therapy can only be very insufficiently tapped by the outcome measures referring to symptoms and interpersonal problems.