Effectiveness of training methods for delivery of evidence-based psychotherapies: A systematic review

Helen Valenstein-Mah, Nancy Greer, Lauren McKenzie, Lucas Hansen, Thad Q. Strom, Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, Timothy J. Wilt, Shannon M. Kehle-Forbes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Extensive efforts have been made to train mental health providers in evidence-based psychotherapies (EBPs); there is increasing attention focused on the methods through which providers are trained to deliver EBPs. Evaluating EBP training methods is an important step in determining which methods are most effective in increasing provider skill and improving client outcomes. Methods: We searched MEDLINE (Ovid) and PsycINFO for randomized controlled trials published from 1990 through June 2019 that evaluated EBP training methods to determine the effectiveness of EBP training modalities on implementation (provider and cost) and client outcomes. Eligible studies (N = 28) were evaluated for risk of bias, and the overall strength of evidence was assessed for each outcome. Data was extracted by a single investigator and confirmed by a second; risk of bias and strength of evidence were independently rated by two investigators and determined by consensus. Results: Overall, EBP training improved short-term provider satisfaction, EBP knowledge, and adherence compared to no training or self-study of training materials (low to moderate strength of evidence). Training in an EBP did not increase treatment adoption compared to no training or self-study. No specific active EBP training modality was found to consistently increase provider EBP knowledge, skill acquisition/adherence, competence, adoption, or satisfaction compared to another active training modality. Findings were mixed regarding the additive benefit of post-training consultation on these outcomes. No studies evaluated changes in provider outcomes with regards to training costs and few studies reported on client outcomes. Limitations: The majority of included studies had a moderate risk of bias and strength of evidence for the outcomes of interest was generally low or insufficient. Few studies reported effect sizes. The ability to identify the most effective EBP training methods was limited by low strength of evidence for the outcomes of interest and substantial heterogeneity among studies. Conclusions: EBP training may have increased short-term provider satisfaction, EBP knowledge, and adherence though not adoption. Evidence was insufficient on training costs and client outcomes. Future research is needed on EBP training methods, implementation, sustainability, client outcomes, and costs to ensure efforts to train providers in EBPs are effective, efficient, and durable. Trial registration: The protocol for this review is registered in PROSPERO (CRD42018093381).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number40
JournalImplementation Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 27 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This manuscript is based upon work supported by the Minneapolis VA Center for Care Delivery and Outcomes Research Locally Initiated Project Award. The funding body was not involved in the design of the study, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, or in writing the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Adherence
  • Competence
  • Evidence-based psychotherapy
  • Fidelity
  • Provider training
  • Training methods


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