Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

Effective components of feedback from Routine Outcome Monitoring (ROM) in youth mental health care: study protocol of a three-arm parallel-group randomized controlled trial

Maartje AMS van Sonsbeek123*, Giel GJM Hutschemaekers12, Jan Willem Veerman1 and Bea BG Tiemens12

Author Affiliations

1 Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Montessorilaan 3, 6525 HR Nijmegen, The Netherlands

2 Pro Persona Centre for Education & Science (ProCES), Tarweweg 6, 6534 AM Nijmegen, The Netherlands

3 Pro Persona Youth Tiel, Siependaallaan 3, 4003 LE Tiel, The Netherlands

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BMC Psychiatry 2014, 14:3  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-14-3

Published: 6 January 2014



Routine Outcome Monitoring refers to regular measurements of clients’ progress in clinical practice, aiming to evaluate and, if necessary, adapt treatment. Clients fill out questionnaires and clinicians receive feedback about the results. Studies concerning feedback in youth mental health care are rare. The effects of feedback, the importance of specific aspects of feedback, and the mechanisms underlying the effects of feedback are unknown. In the present study, several potentially effective components of feedback from Routine Outcome Monitoring in youth mental health care in the Netherlands are investigated.


We will examine three different forms of feedback through a three-arm parallel-group randomized controlled trial. 432 children and adolescents (aged 4 to 17 years) and their parents, who have been referred to mental health care institution Pro Persona, will be randomly assigned to one of three feedback conditions (144 participants per condition). Randomization will be stratified by age of the child or adolescent and by department. All participants fill out questionnaires at the start of treatment, one and a half months after the start of treatment, every three months during treatment, and at the end of treatment. Participants in the second and third feedback conditions fill out an additional questionnaire. In condition 1, clinicians receive basic feedback regarding clients’ symptoms and quality of life. In condition 2, the feedback of condition 1 is extended with feedback regarding possible obstacles to a good outcome and with practical suggestions. In condition 3, the feedback of condition 2 is discussed with a colleague while following a standardized format for case consultation. The primary outcome measure is symptom severity and secondary outcome measures are quality of life, satisfaction with treatment, number of sessions, length of treatment, and rates of dropout. We will also examine the role of being not on track (not responding to treatment).


This study contributes to the identification of effective components of feedback and a better understanding of how feedback functions in real-world clinical practice. If the different feedback components prove to be effective, this can help to support and improve the care for youth.

Trial registration

Dutch Trial Register NTR4234

Routine Outcome Monitoring; Feedback; Youth mental health care; Randomized controlled trial