Beliefs About Psychotropic Medication and Psychotherapy Among Primary Care Patients with Anxiety Disorders

Published in: Depression and Anxiety, v. 21, no. 3, June 17, 2005, p. 99-105

Posted on RAND.org on May 31, 2005

by Amy W. Wagner, Alexander Bystritsky, Joan Russo, Michelle G. Craske, Cathy D. Sherbourne, Murray Stein, Peter Roy-Byrne

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Primary health care clinics are increasingly providing psychiatric/psychological treatment of anxiety disorders, particularly for patients who do not have adequate access to specialty mental health services. Adequate treatment requires knowledge of and attention to patients' beliefs about available treatment options. The current investigation examined beliefs about psychotropic medications and psychotherapy among a sample of primary care patients with anxiety disorders. The influence of key demographic variables on strength of these beliefs was also explored. The presence of specific anxiety disorders was not found to impact strength of beliefs about either type of treatment. In contrast, there was a trend for the presence of depression to relate to more favorable attitudes toward psychotropic medication. Consistent with previous studies, ethnic minority patients reported less favorable attitudes toward both psychotropic medications and psychotherapy. These findings underscore the importance of assessing patient beliefs prior to the initiation of either psychotropic medications or psychotherapy across diagnostic and demographic groups. Practitioners should be particularly alert to the possibility that patients with anxiety disorders and members of ethnic minority groups may have less favorable attitudes toward treatment options. Treatment adherence may therefore be increased by addressing these beliefs directly.

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