We have now completed the AVATAR research study and are delighted to share the exciting findings.
Between Nov 1, 2013, and Jan 28, 2016, 394 people were referred to the study, 150 people were eligible and randomly assigned to receive either AVATAR Therapy (n=75) or Supportive Counselling (n=75). Across both therapy groups, 1030 therapy sessions were offered to the participants.
In general, people who took part in the study did very well. However, the improvement in voices after therapy which was our main outcome (assessed as frequency and severity) was greater for those who had AVATAR Therapy than for Supportive Counselling. This was at 12 weeks and was statistically significant, with a large effect. Importantly, these improvements were maintained when researchers met participants again at 24 weeks. People who received Supportive Counselling also showed some improvements by 24 weeks. There was no evidence of any adverse events attributable to either therapy.
While AVATAR Therapy needs further research to refine and test it across different NHS settings, we believe these are exciting results. The therapy resulted in improvements for people who had suffered with distressing voices for many years despite regular medication. The positive effect on voices was greater than that shown in research studies of other psychological therapies. The results of our study have now been published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal.
We would like to give a BIG THANK YOU to all the people involved in the study including the clinical teams and of course our participants! We have received great support from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and a number of other trusts across London.