Outcomes of Self-help Efforts in Anxiety Disorders

Amy J Morgan; Anthony F Jorm


Expert Rev Pharmacoeconomics Outcomes Res. 2009;9(5):445-459. 

In This Article


This paper aims to provide an up-to-date overview of the research evidence for a broad range of self-help interventions for anxiety disorders. Most of the interventions identified as potentially useful for anxiety disorders have not been subjected to RCTs. Of the few that have been, some have preliminary evidence of efficacy, but further replication trials are necessary, especially as many trials had small sample sizes and no longer term follow-up. The lack of follow-up is important because those with anxiety disorders usually wait years before seeking treatment,[81] and outcome after just a few weeks of treatment may have little consequence for longer term recovery. Only bibliotherapy, computer or internet CBT interventions, relaxation and possibly kava, showed reasonably consistent evidence of efficacy. There was also some evidence for the ineffectiveness of St John's wort for anxiety disorders and omega-3 fatty acids for obsessive–compulsive disorder. Overall, the evidence has not changed a great deal since when it was reviewed in 2004.[15] Unlike the previous review, we did not identify exercise as having evidence of efficacy, as we did not review trials where participants only had anxiety symptoms. Computer or internet CBT has also since emerged as a promising intervention, with a number of reviews and research teams evaluating it for a variety of anxiety disorders. However, most other interventions have not received a great deal of research attention and, hence, firmer conclusions about their efficacy cannot be made.


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