Clinical significance: a statistical approach to defining meaningful change in psychotherapy research

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1991 Feb;59(1):12-9. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.59.1.12.


In 1984, Jacobson, Follette, and Revenstorf defined clinically significant change as the extent to which therapy moves someone outside the range of the dysfunctional population or within the range of the functional population. In the present article, ways of operationalizing this definition are described, and examples are used to show how clients can be categorized on the basis of this definition. A reliable change index (RC) is also proposed to determine whether the magnitude of change for a given client is statistically reliable. The inclusion of the RC leads to a twofold criterion for clinically significant change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Protocols / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Therapy
  • Marriage
  • Models, Statistical
  • Psychotherapy / standards*
  • Research Design*