The GAD-7, a seven-question, self-administered screening tool, identifies patients with undiagnosed generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder or social anxiety disorder. The new study, which looked at 965 patients in 15 primary care clinics, found anxiety to be as prevalent as depression, and much more common than previously thought, in patients who were visiting a physician for a physical problem or illness.
"Anxiety often manifests as a physical symptom like pain, fatigue, or inability to sleep, so it is not surprising that one out of five patients who come to a doctor’s office with a physical complaint have anxiety," said Dr. Kroenke, I.U. School of Medicine professor of medicine and Regenstrief Institute, Inc. research scientist. Dr. Kroenke, an internist, is an internationally recognized researcher who studies physical symptoms, especially pain, and their links to mental disorders including anxiety and depression.
Dr. Kroenke and colleagues found that even administering the first two questions of the GAD-7 flagged those patients with possible anxiety disorders for physician follow-up. These questions ask the patient if he or she has felt nervous or has been unable to stop or control worrying over the previous two weeks. Bringing this information to the physician’s attention is important because the doctor may be focused on the patient’s physical complaints and unless prompted by the patient or test results is unlikely