Identifying the Organizational Innovation-Specific Capacity Needed for Exposure Therapy

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Background: Current approaches to increasing the rates of clinician use of exposure therapy for anxiety disorders in community settings are limited. Research underscores the importance of addressing contextual variables to facilitate clinician use of evidence-based practices; however, no studies have identified the innovation-specific organizational capacity necessary to implement exposure therapy. Such work is critical to ensure that treatment-seeking individuals with anxiety receive effective care.

Methods: We used a two-step process to identify the innovation-specific organizational capacity necessary to deliver exposure. First, 24 leaders of specialty anxiety clinics in the United States (50% female, mean [M]age = 47.7 years) completed a survey about the organizational innovation-specific capacity (e.g., policies and procedures) they employ to support their providers in delivering exposure therapy. Second, 19 community clinicians (79% female, M age = 42.9 years) reported on the extent to which these characteristics were present in their settings.

Results: In Step 1, specialty clinic leaders unanimously endorsed six organizational characteristics as essential and five as important within the areas of organizational policies, supervisory support, and peer clinician support. These characteristics were present in more than 90% of specialty clinics. In Step 2, therapists in community clinics reported these characteristics were minimally present in their organizations.

Conclusions: Specialty clinic leaders exhibited consensus on the innovation-specific organizational capacity necessary to implement exposure therapy. Identified characteristics were largely absent from community clinics. Developing fiscal, policy, or organizational strategies that enhance the organizational capacity within community settings may improve the patients’ access to effective treatment for anxiety disorders.