[Anxiety disorders in private practice psychiatric out-patients: prevalence, comorbidity and burden (DELTA study)]

A Pélissolo, C André, J-M Chignon, D Dutoit, P Martin, C Richard-Berthe, J Tignol
L'Encéphale 2002, 28 (6): 510-9
Few data are currently available on the prevalence and associated characteristics of anxiety disorders in psychiatric out-patients in France, in particular in the private health-care. However, this represents one of the principal systems of care for patients suffering from anxiety disorders, with a possible direct access and several types of treatments available (pharmacotherapy but also different kinds of psychotherapy). The aim of our study was to describe the prevalence of anxiety disorders in a large sample of patients consulting in the private sector, and in addition to study the comorbidity, the severity of the disorders, their consequences on quality of life and health care consumption. The studied patients were included and assessed by 501 psychiatrists from all the country, at the time of a first visit. Inclusions were to be made in a consecutive way, but with the exclusion of psychotic disorders and dementia. A sample of 1 955 patients was obtained, and all subjects had a standardized diagnostic assessment with the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) and with various dimensional scales of symptomatology severity, quality of life, and health care consumption. On the whole, at least one current anxiety disorder was found in 64.3% of the patients, while 55% had a depressive disorder. Individually, the prevalence rates are 29.4% for generalized anxiety disorder, 25.9% for agoraphobia, 19.2% for panic disorder, 15.3% for social phobia, 11.4% for obsessive-compulsive disorder, and 5.4% for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A history of suicide attempts was found in 12-20% of patients, and an elevated suicide risk was found for example in 25% of PTSD patients. The scores of the symptomatic scales, adaptation and quality of life measure show a very significant anxious symptomatology, with serious functional consequences. Approximately 75% of patients had another medical consultation during the three previous months, and 9% have been hospitalized. An interruption of work was found in 25% of the patients during the last three months, in average for 35 days. Concerning drug consumption before the visit by anxiety disorders patients, the preponderance of anxiolytic use is notable (85 to 98% according to categories of anxiety disorders) when compared to that of antidepressants (20 to 40%). Moreover, 38.4% of the whole sample took an anxiolytic once a day for at least three months and about 40% of them had dependence symptoms. In conclusion, this study showed the quantitative importance of anxiety disorders among psychiatric out-patients in the private practice sector in France, all the categories of anxiety being represented, and the high level of severity and burden of these disorders. Compared to some data published before, the prevalence rates of these anxiety disorders seem to be increasing.

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