Screening for anxiety disorders with the GAD-7 and GAD-2: a systematic review and diagnostic metaanalysis

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Mar-Apr 2016;39:24-31. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2015.11.005. Epub 2015 Nov 18.

Abstract

Objective: To systematically review the accuracy of the GAD-7 and GAD-2 questionnaires for identifying anxiety disorders.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted to identify studies that validated the GAD-7 or GAD-2 against a recognized gold standard diagnosis. Pooled estimates of diagnostic test accuracy were produced using random-effects bivariate metaanalysis. Heterogeneity was explored using the I(2) statistic.

Results: A total of 12 samples were identified involving 5223 participants; 11 samples provided data on the accuracy of the GAD-7 for identifying generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Pooled sensitivity and specificity values appeared acceptable at a cutoff point of 8 [sensitivity: 0.83 (95% CI 0.71-0.91), specificity: 0.84 (95% CI 0.70-0.92)] although cutoff scores 7-10 also had similar pooled estimates of sensitivity/specificity. Six samples provided data on the accuracy of the GAD-2 for identifying GAD. Pooled sensitivity and specificity values appeared acceptable at a cutoff of 3 [sensitivity: 0.76 (95% CI 0.55-0.89), specificity: 0.81 (95% CI 0.60-0.92)]. Four studies looked at the accuracy of the questionnaires for identifying any anxiety disorder.

Conclusions: The GAD-7 had acceptable properties for identifying GAD at cutoff scores 7-10. The GAD-2 had acceptable properties for identifying GAD at a cutoff score of 3. Further validation studies are needed.

Keywords: Anxiety; Diagnostic test accuracy; Generalised anxiety disorder; Sensitivity and specificity; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / standards*