Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a highly prevalent distressing condition for individuals in both community and community primary care settings. However, despite the high prevalence of GAD identified in epidemiological studies, little is known about GAD and its related symptoms and impairments in veteran populations. The present study investigated the prevalence, comorbidity, physical and mental health impairment, and healthcare utilization of veteran participants with GAD, as well as comparing symptoms of GAD and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans (N=884) participated in a cross-sectional investigation in primary care clinics in four Veteran Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs) and completed diagnostic interviews and self-report questionnaires; a chart review was conducted to assess their VAMC healthcare utilization. A large number of participants (12%) met diagnostic criteria for GAD, reporting significantly worse emotional health, pain, and general health, in addition to increased mental healthcare utilization and antidepressant medications. In addition, GAD was found in 40% of participants with PTSD, resulting in more severe symptoms and impairment than in patients with GAD alone. These findings provide evidence of high prevalence and severe impairment associated with GAD in veterans and highlight the need for improved recognition, assessment, and treatments for GAD.
Keywords: Comorbidity; Healthcare utilization; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Veterans.
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