New paper: Sakaluk, J. K., Williams, A., Kilshaw, R., & Rhyner, K. T. (2019; in press). Evaluating the Evidential Value of Empirically Supported Psychological Treatments (ESTs): A Meta-Scientific Review. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. [Green Open Access]
Empirically supported treatments (or therapies; ESTs) are the gold standard in therapeutic interventions for psychopathology. Based on a set of methodological and statistical criteria, the APA has assigned particular treatment-diagnosis combinations EST status and has further rated their empirical support as Strong, Modest, and/or Controversial. Emerging concerns about the replicability of research findings in clinical psychology highlight the need to critically examine the evidential value of EST research. We therefore conducted a meta-scientific review of the EST literature, using clinical trials reported in an existing online APA database of ESTs, and a set of novel evidential value metrics (i.e., rates of misreported statistics, statistical power, R-Index, and Bayes Factors). Our analyses indicated that power and replicability estimates were concerningly low across almost all ESTs, and individually, some ESTs scored poorly across multiple metrics, with Strong ESTs failing to continuously outperform their Modest counterparts. Lastly, we found evidence of improvements over time in statistical power within the EST literature, but not for the strength of evidence of EST efficacy. We describe the implications of our findings for practicing psychotherapists and offer recommendations for improving the evidential value of EST research moving forward.