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Review
. 2007 Mar;22(1):8-17.
doi: 10.1037/0882-7974.22.1.8.

Evidence-based Psychological Treatments for Late-Life Anxiety

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Review

Evidence-based Psychological Treatments for Late-Life Anxiety

Catherine R Ayers et al. Psychol Aging. .

Abstract

This project identified evidence-based psychotherapy treatments for anxiety disorders in older adults. The authors conducted a review of the geriatric anxiety treatment outcome literature by using specific coding criteria and identified 17 studies that met criteria for evidence-based treatments (EBTs). These studies reflected samples of adults with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or samples with mixed anxiety disorders or symptoms. Evidence was found for efficacy for 4 types of EBTs. Relaxation training, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and, to a lesser extent, supportive therapy and cognitive therapy have support for treating subjective anxiety symptoms and disorders. CBT for late-life GAD has garnered the most consistent support, and relaxation training represents an efficacious, relatively low-cost intervention. The authors provide a review of the strengths and limitations of this research literature, including a discussion of common assessment instruments. Continued investigation of EBTs is needed in clinical geriatric anxiety samples, given the small number of available studies. Future research should examine other therapy models and investigate the effects of psychotherapy on other anxiety disorders, such as phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder in older adults.

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