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Patients with anxiety disorders suffer marked functional impairment in their activities of daily living. Many studies have documented that improvements in anxiety symptom severity predict functioning improvements. However, no studies have investigated how improvements in functioning simultaneously predict symptom reduction. We hypothesized that symptom levels at a given time point will predict functioning at the subsequent time point, and simultaneously that functioning at a given time point will predict symptom levels at a subsequent time point.
Patients were recruited from primary-care centers for the Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management (CALM) study and were randomized to receive either computer-assisted cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or medication management (ITV) or usual care (UC). A cross-lagged panel design examined the relationship between functional impairment and anxiety and depression symptom severity at baseline, 6-, 12-, and 18-month follow-up assessments.
Prospective prediction of functioning from symptoms and symptoms from functioning were both important in modeling these associations. Anxiety and depression predicted functioning as strongly as functioning predicted anxiety and depression. There were some differences in these associations between UC and ITV. Where differences emerged, the UC group was best modeled with prospective paths predicting functioning from symptoms, whereas symptoms and functioning were both important predictors in the ITV group.
Treatment outcome is best captured by measures of functional impairment as well as symptom severity. Implications for treatment are discussed, as well as future directions of research.
The problem of wide treatment gaps in mental disorders is endemic world wide. The study aims to establish the treatment gap of common mental disorders in Singapore.
A national sample of 6616 persons aged 18 years and above was surveyed with the World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview in which for each diagnostic module, respondents were asked a series of questions regarding treatment contact.
Treatment gap varied considerably between disorders; alcohol abuse had the largest treatment gap (96.2%), followed by obsessive compulsive disorder (89.8%) and alcohol dependence (88.3%). The disorder for which people were most likely to seek help was major depressive disorder. Women with dysthmia were more likely than men to seek help but this help seeking behavior was reversed among those with alcohol abuse and dependence. Age of onset was significantly associated with treatment contact with those who had an earlier age of onset less likely to have treatment contact than those with late age of onset for all disorders except obsessive compulsive disorder.
Our findings suggest that treatment gaps are wide even in an economically developed country like Singapore and other than sociodemographic factors, cultural influences might play an important role in help seeking behavior.
Improving the quality of mental health care requires integrating successful research interventions into ‘real-world’ practice settings. Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management (CALM) is a treatment-delivery model for anxiety disorders encountered in primary care. CALM offers cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, or both; non-expert care managers assisting primary care clinicians with adherence promotion and medication optimization; computer-assisted CBT delivery; and outcome monitoring. This study describes incremental benefits, costs and net benefits of CALM versus usual care (UC).
The CALM randomized, controlled effectiveness trial was conducted in 17 primary care clinics in four US cities from 2006 to 2009. Of 1062 eligible patients, 1004 English- or Spanish-speaking patients aged 18–75 years with panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with or without major depression were randomized. Anxiety-free days (AFDs), quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and expenditures for out-patient visits, emergency room (ER) visits, in-patient stays and psychiatric medications were estimated based on blinded telephone assessments at baseline, 6, 12 and 18 months.
Over 18 months, CALM participants, on average, experienced 57.1 more AFDs [95% confidence interval (CI) 31–83] and $245 additional medical expenses (95% CI $–733 to $1223). The mean incremental net benefit (INB) of CALM versus UC was positive when an AFD was valued ⩾$4. For QALYs based on the Short-Form Health Survey-12 (SF-12) and the EuroQol EQ-5D, the mean INB was positive at ⩾$5000.
Compared with UC, CALM provides significant benefits with modest increases in health-care expenditures.
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorders and are associated with substantial disability and reduced well-being. It is unknown whether the relative impact of different anxiety disorders is due to the anxiety disorder itself or to the co-occurrence with other anxiety disorders. This study compared the functional impact of combinations of anxiety disorders in primary care out-patients.
A total of 1004 patients with panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) provided data on their mental and physical functioning, and disability. Multivariate regressions compared functional levels for patients with different numbers and combinations of disorders.
Of the patients, 42% had one anxiety disorder only, 38% two, 16% three and 3% all four. There were few relative differences in functioning among patients with only one anxiety disorder, although those with SAD were most restricted in their work, social and home activities and those with GAD were the least impaired. Functioning levels tended to deteriorate as co-morbidity increased.
Of the four anxiety disorders examined, GAD appears to be the least disabling, although they all have more in common than in distinction when it comes to functional impairment. A focus on unique effects of specific anxiety disorders is inadequate, as it fails to address the more pervasive impairment associated with multiple anxiety disorders, which is the modal presentation in primary care.
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