Introduction: Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and subclinical GAD are highly prevalent in primary care. Unmanaged anxiety worsens quality of life in patients seen in primary care practices and leads to increased medical utilisation and costs. Programmes that teach patients cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques have been shown to improve anxiety and to prevent the evolution of anxiety symptoms to disorders, but access and engagement have hampered integration of CBT into medical settings.
Methods and analysis: This pragmatic study takes place in University of Pittsburgh Medical Center primary care practices to evaluate a coach-supported mobile cognitive- behavioural programme (Lantern) on anxiety symptoms and quality of life. Clinics were non-randomly assigned to either enhanced treatment as usual or Lantern. All clinics provide electronic screening for anxiety and, within clinics assigned to Lantern, patients meeting a threshold level of mild anxiety (ie, >5 on Generalised Anxiety Disorder 7-Item Questionnaire (GAD-7)) are referred to Lantern. The first study phase is aimed at establishing feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness. The second phase focuses on long-term impact on psychosocial outcomes, healthcare utilisation and clinic/provider adoption/sustainable implementation using a propensity score matched parallel group study design. Primary outcomes are changes in anxiety symptoms (GAD-7) and quality of life (Short-Form Health Survey) between baseline and 6-month follow-ups, comparing control and intervention. Secondary outcomes include provider and patient satisfaction, patient engagement, durability of changes in anxiety symptoms and quality of life over 12 months and the impact of Lantern on healthcare utilisation over 12 months. Patients from control sites will be matched to the patients who use the mobile app.
Ethics and dissemination: Ethics and human subject research approval were obtained. A data safety monitoring board is overseeing trial data and ethics. Results will be communicated to participating primary care practices, published and presented at clinical and scientific conferences.
Trial registration number: NCT03035019.
Keywords: anxiety; cognitive behavioural; digital health; mhealth; primary care; quality of life.
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