Predictors of Willingness to Consider Medication and Psychosocial Treatment for Panic Disorder in Primary Care Patients

Published in: General Hospital Psychiatry, v. 24, no. 5, Sep./Oct. 2002, p. 316-321

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2001

by Holly Hazlett-Stevens, Michelle G. Craske, Peter Roy-Byrne, Cathy D. Sherbourne, Murray Stein, Alexander Bystritsky

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The purpose of this investigation was to identify demographic and clinical patient characteristics related to willingness to consider panic disorder treatments in the primary care setting. Given the prevalence of anxiety disorders and the increased provision of mental health treatments in general medical settings, patients were selected from primary care settings. An unselected sample of 4,198 patients completed a brief questionnaire containing questions about demographic characteristics, physical health status, and symptoms of panic disorder, social phobia and PTSD. The 1,043 patients indicating a recent panic attack episode answered additional questions about their willingness to consider both medication and psychosocial forms of intervention for panic. Of these panic patients, 64% reported willingness to consider medication and 67% reported willingness to consider a psychosocial intervention for their panic. Logistic regression analyses for these panic patients revealed that willingness to consider medication treatment for panic was associated with older age, lower education, poorer health status and the presence of social phobia and/or PTSD symptoms. In addition, Asian and African American patients were less likely than Caucasian patients to indicate willingness to consider medication treatment for their panic. However, only the presence of comorbid social phobia and PTSD symptoms predicted willingness to consider a psychosocial intervention. Results suggest that acceptability of psychosocial treatment is unrelated to demographic and physical health factors, while primary care patients with certain demographic characteristics, good physical health, or who suffer from fewer comorbid mental health conditions may need additional encouragement to begin medication treatment for panic.

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