Variables associated with the single session in outpatient mental health treatment

Jyoti S. Jayaraman (1999)

Many clients who seek outpatient services do not return after their initial visit. Estimates of single sessions run between 20% and 60%. The reasons for these brief visits have been investigated under the rubric of premature terminations. Clients in this group have been referred to as treatment dropouts or treatment failures. Research on variables associated with the initial session is sparse. Some studies have identified demographic, diagnostic and treatment variables which have been associated with premature termination. The present study reviewed research on premature termination and patterns of utilization of mental health services. It was hypothesized that some clients are seen only for a single session because they envision the use of mental health services in the same way as the general public envisions the use of the hospital emergency rooms. This subgroup varies from those who continue in treatment after their first visit. These differences can be identified according to demographic, diagnostic and treatment variables. The present study compared clients who use single sessions to clients who remain in treatment for five or more sessions. Clients in both groups were identified as completers, (termination of treatment agreed upon by client and therapist) and dropouts (did not return for subsequent appointments). A two-group comparison design was used. The data was analyzed using a discriminant function procedure to determine group differences. The results suggested group differences and identified specific demographic, diagnostic and treatment variables that were correlated with the use of single sessions.