This article describes the Dutch ‘Multidisciplinary Guidelines in Mental Health Care’ project and its first products (multidisciplinary guidelines on depressive and anxiety disorders).
Context of case
In the early 1990s, disciplines in Dutch mental health care formulated their first monodisciplinary guidelines, which disagreed on essential features. In 1998, the Dutch government invited representatives of the five core disciplines in mental health care (psychiatrists, general practitioners, psychotherapists (clinical), psychologists and psychiatric nurses) to start a joint project aimed at the development of new integrated multidisciplinary guidelines.
The vision document, presented in 2000 by the five core disciplines, describes the directions for the development of new guidelines. The guidelines on depressive and anxiety disorders will appear in 2004.
The first draft guidelines were presented in May 2003, in line with the vision document (2000). However, it is still not certain whether they will be authorised by all professional groups. Some disciplines do not recognise themselves in these guidelines. It is argued that these problems can be attributed at least in part to the evidence-based method that was used in drafting the guidelines. Interventions are compared on the basis of their ‘level of evidence’, the consequence of which is that cognitive behavioural therapy and drug treatment are almost always seen as the only appropriate interventions. Other interventions are excluded because of their lower level of evidence.
Conclusions and discussion
The conclusion is that guidelines cannot be based on empirical evidence alone. It is argued that the collective sense of professions involved should also be integrated into the guideline, for example in relation to goal differentiation. It is finally argued that multidisciplinary guidelines must also offer a hierarchy between those goals, i.e. a vision of the appropriate type of care and the order in which the various care components should be administered.