Mental health clinicians’ beliefs about the causes of psychosis: Differences between professions and relationship to treatment preferences [2017]

Previous evidence suggests that how an individual conceptualises the cause of a health problem can impact on subsequent perceptions and behaviour.

This study explored the beliefs about the causes of psychosis in a group of mental health professionals. The study also sought to examine the relationship between causal beliefs and the perceived helpfulness of different treatments.

A total of 219 clinicians completed a questionnaire about the provision of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and antipsychotic medication for their clients who were experiencing psychosis and their opinions about the helpfulness of these treatments. Causal beliefs were also assessed.

Results and conclusions:
Clients were twice as likely to be offered medication compared to CBT. Clinicians held a multifactorial model of aetiology, but were more likely to endorse psychosocial causes than biological factors. Clinicians with psychosocial beliefs were more likely to rate CBT as effective, whereas those with biological models were more likely to endorse the helpfulness of medication. Clinicians adopt a multi-causal approach when conceptualising the aetiology of psychosis and these beliefs were related to opinions about the helpfulness of treatment. Beliefs about the aetiology of their client’s experiences could blind clinicians to the benefits of offering different approaches.

Lucy Carter, John Read, Melissa Pyle, Heather Law, Anthony P Morrison

International Journal of Social Psychiatry, Vol 63, Issue 5, 2017