For my MSc project, I conducted an evaluation of a group format of parent-delivered, therapist-supported cognitive behavioural therapy for child anxiety as delivered in routine clinical practice. I was fortunate to be supervised by both Dr Claire Hill and Prof. Cathy Creswell.
The planning and data collection involved a series of phases. I liaised with clinicians from four NHS Trusts to invite them to contribute to the evaluation and to arrange permission for data collection. Claire, Cathy and I agreed that it would benefit the evaluation to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. I conducted semi-structured interviews with clinicians who had delivered the treatment, and collected retrospective anonymised clinical data (e.g. waiting times, attendance, anxiety questionnaire scores at pre and post treatment, and service use following treatment).
I was lucky to have the opportunity to present the findings in a symposium at the European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies in Stockholm, which was a fantastic experience. I have also presented posters outlining the project at the AnDY Mental Health Awareness Event and at an Economic and Social Research Council seminar, where I won the prize for the best poster. We are now in the process of writing up the evaluation for publication.
Although this felt like an ambitious project and at times it was quite challenging, I believe it was absolutely worth the effort as it was so interesting and I learned a lot from the whole process. I have developed skills and confidence in liaising with clinicians and managers from multiple NHS trusts. I now have a good understanding of the practical issues and challenges of collecting data in routine clinical practice, although I remain of the opinion that it is very important to collect this type of data to evaluate treatments. I have also greatly developed my skills in data collection and analysis, particularly of qualitative data as I had limited previous experience of this. Additionally, I now feel much more confident in my own abilities to present research findings to a range of audiences. I believe my newly developed skills and understanding will be highly valuable for my future career in both clinical practice and clinical research.