Assessing recovery in treatment as usual provided by community child and adolescent mental health services

Naomi Gibbons, Emma Harrison, Paul Stallard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Despite the importance of routinely assessing the outcomes of everyday practice, few studies have reported outcome metrics for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). Aims Our aim is to investigate reliable change and recovery rates for treatment as usual, provided by one community CAMHS over two time periods. Method We prospectively audited accepted consecutive referrals from November 2017 to January 2018, and April to September 2019. Cases with paired outcomes were identified, and reliable change and recovery rates were calculated. Results Baseline outcome data were obtained for 672 (78.2%) and 744 (77.5%) young people in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Of eligible participants, 174 (59.2%) and 155 (45.7%) completed at least one follow-up outcome measure in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Pre- and post-test scores on the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS) and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) showed a reduction in symptoms. Total RCADS scores showed 21-25% of participants reliably improved, with 44-49% showing reliable improvement on one or more subscale. On the SDQ, 11 (15.5%) and 19 (25.3%) participants reported reliable improvement on at least one subscale in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Reliable recovery rates ranged from 48 to 51% for youth-completed and 40 to 42% for parent-completed RCADS. Conclusions Half of young people receiving treatment as usual from CAMHS reliably improved on at least one routine outcome measure subscale, improvement rates comparable with adult psychological therapies services. Our findings indicate that reliable change and recovery on subscale rather than total scores may be a better indication of outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere87
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2021


  • audit
  • child and adolescent mental health services
  • recovery
  • reliable change
  • Routine outcome measures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this