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Health anxiety is an under-recognised but a frequent cause of distress. It is particularly common in general hospitals.
We carried out an 8-year follow-up of medical out-patients with health anxiety (hypochondriasis) enrolled in a randomised-controlled trial in five general hospitals in London, Middlesex and Nottinghamshire. Randomisation was to a mean of six sessions of cognitive behaviour therapy adapted for health anxiety (CBT-HA) or to standard care in the clinics. The primary outcome was a change in score on the Short Health Anxiety Inventory, with generalised anxiety and depression as secondary outcomes. Of 444 patients aged 16–75 years seen in cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, neurology and respiratory medicine clinics, 306 (68.9%) were followed-up 8 years after randomisation, including 36 who had died. The study is registered with controlled-trials.com, ISRCTN14565822.
There was a significant difference in the HAI score in favour of CBT-HA over standard care after 8 years [1.83, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.25–3.40, p = 0.023], between group differences in generalised anxiety were less (0.54, 95% CI −0.29 to 1.36), p = 0.20, ns), but those for depression were greater at 8 years (1.22, 95% CI 0.42–2.01, p < 0.003) in CBT-HA than in standard care, most in standard care satisfying the criteria for clinical depression. Those seen by nurse therapists and in cardiology and gastrointestinal clinics achieved the greatest gains with CBT-HA, with greater improvement in both symptoms and social function.
CBT-HA is a highly long-term effective treatment for pathological health anxiety with long-term benefits. Standard care for health anxiety in medical clinics promotes depression. Nurse therapists are effective practitioners.
To compare an existing crisis resolution service with a new crisis resolution team (CRT) in Wales. The impact of the new team was measured by changes in bed days and admissions. A random sample of patients from each service was assessed for service satisfaction, social functioning and quality of life after first presentation.
The total number of bed days was reduced following the introduction of the new CRT (27.3%). The frequency and duration of compulsory admissions increased by 31% in the CRT between the first and second years and by 7% in the control service, offset by a greater reduction in informal admissions in the CRT (23.5%) compared with the control group (13.3%); overall bed usage was unchanged. Service satisfaction, social functioning and quality of life showed no important differences between the services.
Crisis resolution teams may reduce informal admissions in the short term but at the cost of more compulsory admissions later.
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