ACT therapy enhances decision making of medical professionals

ACT therapy
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A Swedish study has revealed that ACT therapy enables medical professionals to make more accurate medical assessments.

The investigation, led by a team of researchers from Linköping University, Sweden, analysed primary medical care personnel in the Kalmar County region of the country as they received ACT therapy, discovering that the training helped them improve their role and allowed them to make decisions of firmer grounds. Ultimately, the therapy resulted in the medical professionals prescribing 21% less sick leave for their patients.

What is ACT Therapy?

ACT therapy – otherwise known as acceptant and commitment therapy – is a type of behavioural treatment that provides doctors and those in the medical care industry with the tools to carry out accurate medical assessments.

The training allows them to make an in-depth analysis of the patient instead of just prescribing sick leave. Currently, 60% of all sick leave prescribed in Sweden is related to depression, anxiety, pain, and a range of stress-related issues, with the majority of patients treated within the primary care system.

ACT therapy constitutes a plethora of techniques that promote beneficial change for the user, such as improving conscious presence and the ability to embrace uncomfortable emotions and thoughts. The ACT Therapy that the medical professionals received was comprised of lectures on how they can approach their patients, their symptoms, supervisions, and cross-disciplinary meetings.

Åsa Kadowaki, a psychiatrist and licensed CBT therapist working in the Kalmar County region, said: “Patients with mild to moderate depression, for example, require more than simply being prescribed sick leave. Today, normal crises and life events are turned into medical events by the use of sick leave. But it should rather be a case of learning to live with one’s emotions and managing them. This is why we in the medical care system must take back the possibility of using the medicine and take action that helps the patient.”

Outcomes of the training

For their study, medical staff at five healthcare centres in Kalmar were given comprehensive training in how to approach their patients with the help of ACT therapy, which was then compared to five local healthcare centres in the Jönköping region whose medical professionals did not receive ACT training. The study’s result revealed a 21% reduction in the prescription of sick leave in the Kalmar region, whereas, in Jönköping, there was no change.

Kadowaki said: “It’s important that it is not just the doctors, but also, for example, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists at the local healthcare centre who are given the opportunity for training, such that all members of a team contribute and travel in the same direction. Our objective is to help people to make their own decisions about what needs to change in order for them to achieve sustainability in their lives. This can take place by, for example, motivational consultations.”

Fredrik Nyström, a professor of internal medicine at Linköping University, commented: “Åsa Kadowaki has carried out most of the training and supervised the medical care personnel. The results show that her ACT-based method works. No other mental health intervention has given such a large reduction in the amount of sick leave.”

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