A new scale for assessing the quality of randomized clinical trials of psychotherapy

Compr Psychiatry. 2010 May-Jun;51(3):319-24. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2009.07.001. Epub 2009 Aug 28.


Context: In 2004, the American Psychiatric Association's Committee on Research on Psychiatric Treatments appointed a subcommittee to investigate the status of empirical evidence with regard to psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Objective: As a part of this effort, the committee developed a rating scale designed to assess the quality of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of psychotherapy.

Data sources: A 25-item RCT of Psychotherapy Quality Rating Scale was generated by expert consensus. Interrater reliability, internal consistency, and validity testing were undertaken using 7 trained raters.

Study selection: A PubMed search was conducted to locate all RCTs of psychotherapies identified by their authors as being "psychodynamic" or "psychoanalytic" in origin and implementation.

Data extraction: A total of 69 RCTs were independently rated by 2 raters.

Data synthesis: The scale was found to have good interrater reliability (total score intraclass correlation = 0.76), internal consistency (Cronbach alpha = .87), and external validity.

Conclusions: This scale establishes a new standard for the design and execution of psychotherapy RCTs and provides a systematic empirical method for evaluating the quality of published RCTs.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Observer Variation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Research Design / statistics & numerical data
  • Treatment Outcome