Functional impact and health utility of anxiety disorders in primary care outpatients

Med Care. 2005 Dec;43(12):1164-70. doi: 10.1097/01.mlr.0000185750.18119.fd.


Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the relative impact of anxiety disorders and major depression on functional status and health-related quality of life of primary care outpatients.

Method: Four hundred eighty adult outpatients at an index visit to their primary care provider were classified by structured diagnostic interview as having anxiety disorders (panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, social phobia, and posttraumatic stress disorder; generalized anxiety disorder was also assessed in a subset) with or without major depression. Functional status, sick days from work, and health-related quality of life (including a preference-based measure) were assessed using standardized measures adjusting for the impact of comorbid medical illnesses. Relative impact of the various anxiety disorders and major depression on these indices was evaluated.

Results: In multivariate regression analyses simultaneously adjusting for age, sex, number of chronic medical conditions, education, and/or poverty status, each of major depression, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and social phobia contributed independently and relatively equally to the prediction of disability and functional outcomes. Generalized anxiety disorder had relatively little impact on these indices when the effects of comorbid major depression were considered. Overall, anxiety disorders were associated with substantial decrements in preference-based health states.

Conclusions: These observations demonstrate that the presence of each of 3 common anxiety disorders (ie, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and social phobia)-over and above the impact of chronic physical illness, major depression, and other socioeconomic factors-contributes in an approximately additive fashion to the prediction of poor functioning, reduced health-related quality of life, and more sick days from work. Greater awareness of the deleterious impact of anxiety disorders in primary care is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications*
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / complications*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Outpatients
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents