Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder in older people. First-line management includes pharmacological and psychological therapies, but many do not find these effective or acceptable. Little is known about how to manage treatment-resistant generalised anxiety disorder (TR-GAD) in older people.
Objectives: To examine the acceptability, feasibility and preliminary estimates of the effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for older people with TR-GAD.
Participants: People aged ≥65 years with TR-GAD (defined as not responding to GAD treatment, tolerate it or refused treatment) recruited from primary and secondary care services and the community. INTERVENTION: Participants received up to 16 one-to-one sessions of ACT, developed specifically for older people with TR-GAD, in addition to usual care.
Measurements: Co-primary outcomes were feasibility (defined as recruitment of ≥32 participants and retention of ≥60% at follow-up) and acceptability (defined as participants attending ≥10 sessions and scoring ≥21/30 on the satisfaction with therapy subscale). Secondary outcomes included measures of anxiety, worry, depression and psychological flexibility (assessed at 0 and 20 weeks).
Results: Thirty-seven participants were recruited, 30 (81%) were retained and 26 (70%) attended ≥10 sessions. A total of 18/30 (60%) participants scored ≥21/30 on the satisfaction with therapy subscale. There was preliminary evidence suggesting that ACT may improve anxiety, depression and psychological flexibility.
Conclusions: There was evidence of good feasibility and acceptability, although satisfaction with therapy scores suggested that further refinement of the intervention may be necessary. Results indicate that a larger-scale randomised controlled trial of ACT for TR-GAD is feasible and warranted.
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- acceptance and commitment therapy
- generalised anxiety disorder
- older people