Background Pharmacological and psychological treatments for anxiety are often combined in clinical practice but there is little research from which to predict the effects.
Method The theoretical outcomes of combining treatments and methods of investigating these as well as methodological difficulties are described. Studies which have been completed in anxiety disorders are reviewed. A double-blind trial, using a factorial design, evaluated buspirone v. placebo and anxiety management training v. nondirective therapy in 60 patients with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
Results Relatively few germane studies have been carried out in the anxiety disorders except for panic disorder with agoraphobia. There is some evidence that short-term, combined treatment does confer additional benefits which are evident both in speed of onset and lasting remission. All four treatment combinations proved effective in the short-term treatment of GAD.
Conclusions More studies examining combined treatment are needed. Although differences may not be apparent at the end of the treatment period, psychological treatment appears to confer advantages at follow-up.