Is Briefer Better? A Preliminary Literature Review of Brief Psychological Interventions

Emily Lubin, BA

Massachusetts General Hospital – Research Assistant
Lubin_Emily poster

Scientific Abstract

Background: In recent years, brief psychological interventions (BPIs) are being used to manage increased demand for mental health services with limited resources and to reduce staff burnout. The aim of the current study is to perform a systematic review of BPIs to determine the breadth of existing published research and highlight the focus for future evaluation in this area. For the purposes of this review, the BPIs are defined as 1) short-term interventions, delivered over fewer sessions, 2) include some of the key components of evidence-based psychological therapy, and 3) designed to be delivered by staff with less specialized training (paraprofessionals).

Methods: Systematic searches were performed in PubMed and PsychINFO databases.

Results: A preliminary investigation highlight that BPIs have been found in primary care services, school settings, tailored to specific populations, delivered to severe and complex groups (e.g., patients with high risk), and provided to health care providers. The search hit rate for PubMed and PsychINFO varied vastly (e.g., hit rate of 200 vs. 4 for the term “brief psychological intervention AND mental health worker”).

Conclusions: Despite its increasing popularity, there seems to be limited literature in brief psychological interventions. Based on the preliminary results, the two search engines differ vastly in the number of search hits, suggesting that PubMed may cast wider search net using same search terms. To date, BPIs have been used in diverse settings with different populations, supporting the importance of increasing our understanding of the BPIs.

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research Areas


Emma Travers-Hill, PhD, Youngsuk Kim, PhD

Principal Investigator

Youngsuk Kim, PhD