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Phone-Delivered CBT Beneficial for Seniors With Anxiety

Significant decline in worry severity and in GAD symptoms, depression at four-month follow-up

THURSDAY, Aug. 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A telephone-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention is superior to nondirective supportive therapy (NST) for older adults with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), according to a study published online Aug. 5 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Gretchen A. Brenes, Ph.D., from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues compared telephone-delivered CBT with NST in 141 adults aged 60 years and older with a principal or co-principal diagnosis of GAD. Telephone-delivered CBT included up to 11 sessions (nine were required) that focused on anxiety symptom recognition, relaxation, cognitive restructuring, use of coping statements, problem solving, worry control, behavioral activation, exposure therapy, and prevention of relapse, with optional chapters on pain and sleep. NST included 10 sessions that provided a supportive atmosphere for participants to share and discuss their feelings, with no direct suggestions for coping.

The researchers found that participants in the CBT group had a significantly greater decline in worry severity at four-month follow-up (difference in improvement, −4.07; 95 percent confidence interval, −6.26 to −1.87; P = 0.004); no significant differences were seen in general anxiety symptoms (difference in improvement, −1.52; 95 percent confidence interval, −4.07 to 1.03; P = 0.24). Participants in the CBT group had significantly greater decline in GAD symptoms and depressive symptoms at four-month follow-up.

“In this trial, telephone-delivered CBT was superior to telephone-delivered NST in reducing worry, GAD symptoms, and depressive symptoms in older adults with GAD,” the authors write.

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