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Mary McMurran addresses British Psychological Society Scotland

Mary McMurranThis year's AGM of the Scottish Branch of the British Psychological Society took place on 14th February at Surgeon's Hall, Edinburgh.

IMH Professor Mary McMurran presented on Enhancing Treatment Engagement and Completion for people with personality disorders. Professor McMurran's research has found a wide variation in completion rates for different services – some services have non-completion rates of up to 80% whereas others are as low as 15%.

Professor McMurran explained that non-completion of treatment is problematic for a wide range of reasons. Her research shows that outcomes for non-completers are worse. They have poorer clinical outcomes, and their cost to services is substantially greater than treatment completers over the years following treatment.

However, Professor McMurran's research also highlights the factors which can enhance completion rates. A model of treatment engagement has been constructed showing that the factors related to completion lie not only with the client, but also with services and support networks. Completion rates are improved when clients are welcomed into services, treatment venues are accessible and pleasant to be in, and practical obstacles to attendance are overcome. It is also important that staff are trained to engage clients effectively, that treatments are properly described to clients, and they are actively engaged in agreeing treatment goals and outcomes.

Professor McMurran presented two new ways of preparing people for treatment, both of which she has evaluated in Nottinghamshire Healthcare services. A goal-based motivational interview - showing people how treatment can help them achieve what they want in life - improved subsequent engagement and treatment attendance. A group work introduction developing people's skills for identifying and interpreting their own emotions helped people realise the value of information from emotions in clarifying and solving problems.

Professor Stephen Joseph, also from the University of Nottingham, spoke about post-traumatic growth and resilience. In one of his research studies, he spoke to survivors of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster three years after the event. Forty three per cent said that their life view had changed for the better. The research showed that positive growth was found in changes in self perception, life perspective and relationships. 

Professors Joseph and McMurran may come from different psychological worlds, but delegates appreciated a common focus to their work, namely how we work alongside people, helping them transform their lives even when the odds are stacked against them. This is very much in tune with the policy and practice culture in Scotland where focus is on transforming public services to work with (or co produce) outcomes with clients, patients, users or communities. The role of psychology in enhancing the quality and experience was a unifying theme of the AGM.

This article is adapted from a British Psychological Society (BPS) Scottish Branch news release. See the BPS in Scotland website for further information.

See also the blog of Sue Northrop, Chair of BPS Scotland Committee