Anxiety disorders surprisingly common yet often untreated

March 12, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- A new study by researchers led by Kurt Kroenke, M.D., of the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute, Inc. reports that nearly 20 percent of patients seen by primary care physicians have at least one anxiety disorder. The study outlines the effectiveness of a new screening tool which can alert busy primary care physicians to those patients with one or more anxiety disorders. The study is published in the March 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The GAD-7, a seven-question, self-administered screening tool, identifies patients with undiagnosed generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder or social anxiety disorder. The new study, which looked at 965 patients in 15 primary care clinics, found anxiety to be as prevalent as depression, and much more common than previously thought, in patients who were visiting a physician for a physical problem or illness.

"Anxiety often manifests as a physical symptom like pain, fatigue, or inability to sleep, so it is not surprising that one out of five patients who come to a doctor's office with a physical complaint have anxiety," said Dr. Kroenke, I.U. School of Medicine professor of medicine and Regenstrief Institute, Inc. research scientist. Dr. Kroenke, an internist, is an internationally recognized researcher who studies physical symptoms, especially pain, and their links to mental disorders including anxiety and depression.

Dr. Kroenke and colleagues found that even administering the first two questions of the GAD-7 flagged those patients with possible anxiety disorders for physician follow-up. These questions ask the patient if he or she has felt nervous or has been unable to stop or control worrying over the previous two weeks. Bringing this information to the physician's attention is important because the doctor may be focused on the patient's physical complaints and unless prompted by the patient or test results is unlikely to assess the patient's mental status.

"Doctors like to quantify things. We can objectively measure blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol, but symptoms of anxiety can be missed in a busy primary care practice. The seven-question GAD-7 and remarkably even the two-question "ultra brief" version gives the physician a tool to quantify the patient's symptoms - sort of a lab test for anxiety," he said.

Patients with anxiety have worse functional status, more disability days and more physician visits than patients without mental illness. Untreated anxiety disorders can be disabling.
-end-
In addition to Dr. Kroenke, co-authors of the study are Robert L. Spitzer, M.D., Janet B.W. Williams, D.S.W., Patrick O. Monahan, Ph.D. and Bernd Lowe, M.D., Ph.D. The study was partially funded by Pfizer, Inc.

Indiana University

Related Primary Care Physicians Articles from Brightsurf:

Six ways primary care "medical homes" are lowering health care spending
New analysis of 394 U.S. primary care practices identifies the aspects of care delivery that are associated with lower health care spending and lower utilization of emergency care and hospital admissions.

Primary care office-based vs telemedicine care visits during COVID-19 pandemic
This observational study quantified national changes in the volume, type and content of primary care delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with regard to office-based visits compared with telemedicine encounters.

Expenditures for primary care may affect how primary care is delivered
This study looks at trends in out-of-pocket and total visit expenditures for visits to primary care physicians.

Primary care clinicians drove increasing use of Medicare's chronic care management codes
To address the problem of care fragmentation for Medicare recipients with multiple chronic conditions, Medicare introduced Chronic Care Management (CCM) in 2015 to reimburse clinicians for care management and coordination.

Primary care physicians during the COVID-19 epidemic
Scientists from the University of Geneva has analysed clinical data from more than 1,500 ambulatory patients tested for COVID-19.

The five phases of pandemic care for primary care
The authors present a roadmap for necessary primary care practice transformations to care for patients and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Primary care physicians experience more burnout and anxiety than other health professions
Health care professionals experience high rates of anxiety and burnout, a growing public health concern, particularly in light of projected physician shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spending on primary care vs. other US health care expenditures
National health care survey data were used to assess the amount of money spent on primary care relative to other areas of health care spending in the US from 2002 to 2016.

High reliance on urgent care centers may disrupt primary care in children
A study of over 4 million children and adolescents in the US enrolled in Medicaid found that those who rely on urgent care centers for more than a third of their outpatient health care needs had fewer visits to primary care providers.

One-third of primary care physicians do not support the use of medications for treating opioid use disorders
A survey of primary care physicians found that one-third did not perceive medications to treat OUD to be more effective than nonmedication treatment or safe for long-term use, despite conclusive evidence to the contrary.

Read More: Primary Care Physicians News and Primary Care Physicians Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.