Remission in CBT for adult anxiety disorders: A meta-analysis

Clin Psychol Rev. 2018 Apr:61:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2018.03.002. Epub 2018 Mar 16.


Currently there is no universally accepted definition of remission in anxiety disorders. This may be causing significantly different estimates of treatment efficacy across anxiety disorders. The aim of this paper was to determine not only the overall remission rate in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety disorders, but also to examine whether the different definitions of remission lead to significantly different remission rates. From the initial 228 abstracts reviewed by the authors, 100 articles were retained. The overall mean remission rate was 51.0%. Remission rates were highest when remission was defined as good end state functioning or no longer meeting criteria for the primary diagnosis. Studies of posttraumatic stress disorder had the highest remission rates, while those of obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder had the lowest remission rates. Rates of remission differed by certain demographic (e.g., older age) and clinical (e.g., medication use) characteristics. Although CBT is an empirically supported treatment for anxiety disorders, it is clear that there is room for improvement, as many patients do not achieve remission status.

Keywords: Anxiety; CBT; Meta-analysis; OCD; PTSD; Remission.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome