Attrition and attendance in group therapy for university students: An examination of predictors across time

J Clin Psychol. 2020 Dec;76(12):2155-2169. doi: 10.1002/jclp.23042. Epub 2020 Aug 24.


Objectives: There exists a dearth of research focused explicitly on predictors of attrition, particularly in the area of group therapy, where both attrition and attendance becomes of primary concern. The present study examined both pretreatment and treatment-specific variables in the prospective prediction of attendance and attrition in group therapy.

Method: Fifty-two participants were randomized to one of two 12-week group treatments. Participants completed baseline interviews and questionnaires, as well as weekly assessments of treatment-specific factors.

Results: No pretreatment factors predicted attendance or drop out, although men attended a larger amount of sessions and were less likely to drop out. Cross-lagged panel analyses supported bidirectional, causal relationships both treatment-specific predictors (therapeutic alliance and number of therapeutic techniques) and attendance.

Conclusions: Successful retention in group therapy may be less predictable from pretreatment factors and instead lie in increasing alliance and fostering the practice of therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: attendance; attrition; group therapy; therapeutic alliance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotherapy, Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Young Adult