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Comparing exposure based and other treatments for generalized anxiety disorder

18 April 2003


Treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder has proved challenging (Angst & Vollrath, 1991; Brown et aI., 1993; LeBoeuf & Lodge, 1980; Woodman, Noyes, Black, Schlosser, & Yagla;1999) and a variety of methodologies have been employed. Until the early 1990's, treatment efficacy research focused on comparing cognitive-behavioral treatments with nondirective and pharmacological treatments and no treatment. In the past decade, exposure and desensitization treatments have been included in efficacy trials. This study used meta-analytic methods to assess in treatment outcomes between exposure and cognitive behavioral treatments and desensitization treatments (which involve applying relaxation techniques during exposure). In addition, treatment efficacy of in vivo and imaginal exposure treatments were compared. Findings suggest that cognitive behavioral and exposure treatments produce similar clinically significant outcomes in treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Additionally, it appears as though exposure and desensitization treatments are similarly efficacious in treating this population. Amongst the exposure treatments, however, these results suggest that in vivo exposure treatments may offer advantages over imaginal exposure treatments.


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