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Telephone-based care improves quality of life for those with anxiety disorders

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 5 A better life for people with general anxiety and panic disorders may only be a phone call away, according to a University of Pittsburgh study published in the December issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The researchers report that telephone-based care for people with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder significantly improves both their symptoms of anxiety and depression and their mental health-related quality of life. The Pitt researchers also found the intervention results in fewer missed workdays and lower levels of emergency room usage.

This study is among the first to evaluate the efficacy of a telephone-based collaborative care intervention for anxiety disorders in a primary care setting, garnering results that could have far-reaching impact on how patients in all types of communities urban, suburban and rural can be helped. "Collaborative care" involves care managers who support patients by taking the time needed to familiarize the patients with their illnesses and treatment options while teaching self-management techniques and promoting adherence with recommended treatments according to evidence-based guidelines and under the direction of the patients' primary care physicians with specialist involvement when necessary. By providing support and monitoring progress, the use of care managers can result in much better outcomes for patients.

More than 30 million Americans have suffered from anxiety disorders at some point in their lives. Approximately 12 to 22 percent of patients present symptoms of anxiety-related distress to their primary care physicians. The direct and indirect costs of anxiety disorders have been estimated at $42 billion a year in the United States; 10 percent of those costs come from missed work days and other workplace costs. These facts establish the need for cost-effective and generalizable strategies for treating these patients.

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