Seven in 10 primary-care patients with anxiety disorders received potentially adequate medication or psychotherapy — eventually, as this took years to happen in many cases.

A team led by Risa B. Weisberg, PhD, examined the adequacy of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy for 534 primary-care patients with anxiety disorders at 15 U.S. sites. Study participants were interviewed at six months and 12 months after intake, and then yearly for up to five years.

As the investigators reported in Depression and Anxiety, potentially adequate anxiety treatment was rarely received by primary-care patients with anxiety disorders at intake. However, rates improved over the course of the study.

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Overall, 28% of the 534 study participants stated at intake that they had received potentially adequate anxiety treatment — pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, or both. Approximately one-fifth (19%) of patients stated at intake that they received appropriate pharmacotherapy, and 14% stated that they received potentially adequate cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).  

Over five years of follow-up, 60% of patients said they received appropriate pharmacotherapy and 36% said they received potentially adequate CBT. Examined together, 69% of the participants stated that they had received any potentially adequate treatment during the follow-up period.

Ethnic minority members were less likely to receive potentially adequate care. Persons who had major depressive disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, and Medicaid/Medicare insurance were more likely to receive appropriate anxiety treatment.


  1. Weisberg R et al. Depress Anxiety. 2013; doi:10.1002/da.22209.