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To explore whether and how group cognitive-behavioural therapy (GCBT) plus medication differs from medication alone for the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
Hundred and seventy patients were randomly assigned to the GCBT plus duloxetine (n=89) or duloxetine group (n=81). The primary outcomes were Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA) response and remission rates. The explorative secondary measures included score reductions from baseline in the HAMA total, psychic, and somatic anxiety subscales (HAMA-PA, HAMA-SA), the Hamilton Depression Scale, the Severity Subscale of Clinical Global Impression Scale, Global Assessment of Functioning, and the 12-item Short-Form Health Survey. Assessments were conducted at baseline, 4-week, 8-week, and 3-month follow-up.
At 4 weeks, HAMA response (GCBT group 57.0% vs. control group 24.4%, p=0.000, Cohen’s d=0.90) and remission rates (GCBT group 21.5% vs. control group 6.2%, p=0.004; d=0.51), and most secondary outcomes (all p<0.05, d=0.36−0.77) showed that the combined therapy was superior. At 8 weeks, all the primary and secondary significant differences found at 4 weeks were maintained with smaller effect sizes (p<0.05, d=0.32−0.48). At 3-month follow-up, the combined therapy was only significantly superior in the HAMA total (p<0.045, d=0.43) and HAMA-PA score reductions (p<0.001, d=0.77). Logistic regression showed superiority of the combined therapy for HAMA response rates [odds ratio (OR)=2.12, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02−4.42, p=0.04] and remission rates (OR=2.80, 95% CI 1.27−6.16, p=0.01).
Compared with duloxetine alone, GCBT plus duloxetine showed significant treatment response for GAD over a shorter period of time, particularly for psychic anxiety symptoms, which may suggest that GCBT was effective in changing cognitive style.
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