The importance of using outcome measures within clinical practice

In 2014, Mark Zimmerman, MD¹ posted in the Psychiatric Times: “Imagine going to your primary care physician with a fever and symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection. The doctor puts his or her palm to your forehead and agrees that you feel warm. A course of treatment is recommended, you return in a couple of days, and he or she again feels your forehead and notes that you are cooler. Would you be happy with this approach to care? Would you continue to see a doctor who evaluated your body temperature in this way? We would not accept this level of care from an internist, a family practitioner, or a pediatrician… To determine the impact of treatment, it is necessary to evaluate outcome.”

Outcome measures are assessment/diagnostic tools to measure performance, ability, or function of patients. Outcome measures can also enhance a patients’ experience, improve patient compliance and improve your own practice.

In Australia, WorkSafe¹ expects that all healthcare professionals who provide services to injured workers for longer than 4-6 weeks will use standardised or customised outcome measures to assist in the clinical justification of their services.

WorkSafe¹ also states that, “Outcome measures reduce administrative time for treating healthcare professionals by providing the following benefits:

  • The questionnaires can be completed independently of the treating healthcare professional
  • Instead of the healthcare professional having to ask a number of questions as part of their subjective assessment, they can scan the questionnaires to pick out the most important issues
  • Assessment of the outcome of treatment is determined more rapidly and with greater objectivity using standardised measures
  • Outcome measures abbreviate information that is required by external parties
  • Subsequent reports are also abbreviated by simply referring to the scores over time and how they have varied”

However, research³ suggests that standardized outcome assessment tools are not being used to evaluate outcome in clinical practice. In the Zimmerman and McGlinchey³ study, healthcare providers were asked the reasons for not routinely using scales in their clinical practice. More than one-quarter of them indicated that they did not believe using scales would be clinically helpful, that they take too much time to use, or that they were not trained in their use.

Importantly, researchsuggests that patients value periodic reviews of therapy. And it has been demonstrated that clients who complete regular outcome measures have significantly better clinical outcomes.4

Easily administer, score and interpret outcome measures through Erepsonline – which may be used to assist your clinical practice. You must evaluate the appropriateness of the outcome measures based on the individual’s needs and your own professional expertise.



  1. WorkSafe. (n.d.). Outcome Measures. Retrieved from:
  2. Zimmerman M. (2014, October 1). The Importance of Measuring Outcomes in Clinical Practice. Retrieved from:
  3. Zimmerman M, McGlinchey JB. Why don’t psychiatrists use scales to measure outcome when treating depressed patients? J Clin Psychiatry. 2008;69:1916-1919.
  4. Lambert M. Presidential address: What we have learned from a decade of research aimed at improving psychotherapy outcome in routine. Psychotherapy Research. 2007; 17(1):1-14.