Background: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the most prevalent anxiety disorders among the elderly. Estimates of prevalence vary from around 3% to 12%, depending on the minimum age considered and the assessment instruments. The present study tests a GAD-specific treatment recently validated among adults (Ladouceur et al., 2000) and adapted for older adults.
Method: Eight older adults (aged from 60 to 71) were included in a single-case experimental multiple-baseline design across subjects. Assessments were conducted at pre-test, post-test and at 6- and 12-months follow-ups. The treatment consisted of awareness training, worry interventions and relapse prevention. The worry interventions targeted intolerance of uncertainty, beliefs about worry, problem-solving and cognitive avoidance.
Results: According to daily self-monitoring of worry, ADIS-IV ratings and self-reported questionnaire scores, seven out of eight participants showed clinically significant improvement at post-test. These therapeutic gains were maintained at 6- and 12-month follow-ups.
Conclusions: This study shows that a cognitive-behavioral treatment that targets intolerance of uncertainty, erroneous beliefs about worry, poor problem orientation and cognitive avoidance is effective for treating GAD among elderly people.