Baylor College of Medicine, Houston studies have found that cognitive behavior therapy can significantly improve mental health in older adults with generalised anxiety disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is common in late life and helps predict increased physical disability, memory difficulties and decreased quality of life.
In the new study, Dr. Melinda A. Stanley recruited 134 older adults with an average age of 67 years in two primary care settings, with treatment provided for 3 months.
They conducted a clinical trial of CBT for late-life GAD in primary care to examine whether CBT would improve outcomes relative to enhanced usual care (EUC).
The patient either received CBT which included education and awareness, relaxation training, cognitive therapy, problem-solving skills training and behavioral sleep management; or EUC, in which patients were telephoned biweekly during the first 3 months of the study by the same therapists to provide support and ensure patient safety.
They found that CBT, compared with EUC, significantly improved worry severity, depressive symptoms and general mental health.
"This study is the first to suggest that CBT can be useful for managing worry and associated symptoms among older patients in primary care," the authors write.
"This study paves the way for future research to test sustainable models of care in more demographically heterogeneous groups," they added.
The findings are published JAMA.