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Predictors of attrition from behavioral medicine treatments

Authors
  • Davis, Mary J.1
  • Addis, Michael E.1
  • 1 Clark University, Department of Psychology, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA, 01610 , Worcester
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annals of Behavioral Medicine
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Dec 01, 1999
Volume
21
Issue
4
Pages
339–349
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/BF02895967
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
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Abstract

Despite the efficacy of a range of behavioral medicine interventions, high rates of attrition are a persistent problem in both clinical and research settings. Appropriately, studies have begun to focus on predictors of attrition with the hope of identifying important client or treatment characteristics. This article reviews attrition predictors in outpatient behavioral medicine treatments for headache, pain, stress, and weight management. Across all areas, psychological variables and severity of symptom variables were more predictive than demographic variables. However, as 13 of the 20 studies reviewed were in the area of weight management, generalizability of the findings to other treatment areas requires further investigation. Recommendations are made for improving attrition research by (a) developing clinically valid definitions of attribition, (b) recognizing important within-group differences among those who prematurely terminate treatment, and (c) focusing on theoretically grounded psychological and treatment process variables. A working definition of attrition based on the integration of clients' and clinicians' perspectives is also provided.

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