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Data about quality of life (QoL) are important to estimate the impact of diseases on functioning and well-being. The present study was designed to assess the association of different aspects of panic disorder (PD) with QoL and to examine the relationship between QoL and symptomatic outcome following brief cognitive-behavioral group therapy (CBGT).
The sample consisted of 55 consecutively recruited outpatients suffering from PD who underwent CBGT. QoL was assessed by the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) at baseline, post-treatment and six months follow-up. SF-36 baseline scores were compared with normative data obtained from a large German population sample.
Agoraphobia, disability, and worries about health were significantly associated with decreased QoL, whereas frequency, severity and duration of panic attacks were not. Treatment responders showed significantly better QoL than non-responders. PD symptom reduction following CBGT was associated with considerable improvement in emotional and physical aspects of QoL. However, the vitality subscale of the SF-36 remained largely unchanged over time.
Our results are encouraging for cognitive-behavior therapists who treat patients suffering from PD in groups, since decrease of PD symptoms appears to be associated with considerable improvements in QoL. Nevertheless, additional interventions designed to target specific aspects of QoL, in particular vitality, may be useful to enhance patients’ well-being.
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