The English Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme is a government-funded initiative that aims to provide timely and equitable access to evidence-based psychotherapeutic interventions, within a primary care setting. Despite the many achievements of the programme, there are several issues regarding research to clinical gaps, as well as a high rate of variation between sites concerning outcomes and attrition. This thesis explores the implementation process of the IAPT delivery model to understand which factors are influential in the successful uptake and integration of evidence-based psychotherapeutic interventions. The aims of this thesis are: To explore, identify and analyse the implementation process involved in establishing and delivering an IAPT service. To uncover the factors that either facilitate or impede its development to provide a more in-depth and detailed account of the implementation and operation of services. To develop an understanding regarding the applicability of evidence-based practice and the IAPT delivery model in a clinical setting, for the provision of psychological therapies. I conducted a series of semi-structured interviews with practitioners delivering and implementing services, across seven sites, and clients, across three sites. The design and analysis followed an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, focusing on personal meaning and sense-making processes. The objective of the interview was to understand the implementation process regarding the IAPT delivery model, exploring how this influences personal experiences and client engagement. Additionally, participant narrative was set in context using open-access data collected and published by the programme. The analysis generated three master themes for practitioners delivering and implementing services including: ‘A Call to Action’ describing how participants regarded this process as a genuine opportunity to make a real impact in mental healthcare; ‘Contextual Influences on Service Operation’ which explores the activities in becoming a locally determined, adaptable and relevant service; and a ‘Focus on Relationships’ outlining the relational and collaborative work involved during implementation. For the client group, three master themes were generated including: ‘A Personal Journey: From Discovery to Advocacy’ illustrating the changing experiences involved during service access and engagement; ‘Perception of Self’ which portrays how individuals made sense of their engagement by judging what it meant to them; 5 and ‘Outside Factors’ which explores the role of others and the physical journey made in getting to services. The analysis suggested that both groups made sense of their experiences in complex and varied ways. Heavily influencing the implementation of the IAPT delivery model is the over-arching need to boost throughput and quantity, possibly at a cost of quality. Additionally, it is argued that the use of routine outcome monitoring in services is useful for reflecting on the implementation process and engaging clients. The key to successful implementation appears to be about achieving integration, requiring a whole-systems based approach that considers the mediating pathways into and out of services. In light of the findings and literature, the thesis proposes several recommendations for future practice and further research.
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