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Pilot of a randomised controlled trial of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline versus cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety symptoms in people with generalised anxiety disorder who have failed to respond to low-intensity psychological treatments as defined by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines

Buszewicz, M; Cape, J; Serfaty, M; Shafran, R; Kabir, T; Tyrer, P; Clarke, CS; (2017) Pilot of a randomised controlled trial of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline versus cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety symptoms in people with generalised anxiety disorder who have failed to respond to low-intensity psychological treatments as defined by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines. Health Technology Assessment , 21 (45) 10.3310/hta21450. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is common, causing unpleasant symptoms and impaired functioning. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines have established good evidence for low-intensity psychological interventions, but a significant number of patients will not respond and require more intensive step 3 interventions, recommended as either high-intensity cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or a pharmacological treatment such as sertraline. However, there are no head-to-head comparisons evaluating which is more clinically effective and cost-effective, and current guidelines suggest that treatment choice at step 3 is based mainly on patient preference. OBJECTIVES: To assess clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness at 12 months of treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) sertraline compared with CBT for patients with persistent GAD not improved with NICE-defined low-intensity psychological interventions. DESIGN: Participant randomised trial comparing treatment with sertraline with high-intensity CBT for patients with GAD who had not responded to low-intensity psychological interventions. Setting: Community-based recruitment from local Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. Four pilot services located in urban, suburban and semirural settings. PARTICIPANTS: People considered likely to have GAD and not responding to low-intensity psychological interventions identified at review by IAPT psychological well-being practitioners (PWPs). Those scoring ≥ 10 on the Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) anxiety measure were asked to consider involvement in the trial. INCLUSION CRITERIA: Aged ≥ 18 years, a score of ≥ 10 on the GAD-7, a primary diagnosis of GAD diagnosed on the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview questionnaire and failure to respond to NICE-defined low-intensity interventions. EXCLUSION CRITERIA: Inability to participate because of insufficient English or cognitive impairment, current major depression, comorbid anxiety disorder(s) causing greater distress than GAD, significant dependence on alcohol or illicit drugs, comorbid psychotic disorder, received antidepressants in past 8 weeks or high-intensity psychological therapy in previous 6 months and any contraindications to treatment with sertraline. RANDOMISATION: Consenting eligible participants randomised via an independent, web-based, computerised system. INTERVENTIONS: (1) The SSRI sertraline prescribed in therapeutic doses by the patient’s general practitioner for 12 months and (2) 14 (± 2) CBT sessions delivered by high-intensity IAPT psychological therapists in accordance with a standardised manual designed for GAD. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome was the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale – Anxiety component at 12 months. Secondary outcomes included measures of depression, social functioning, comorbid anxiety disorders, patient satisfaction and economic evaluation, collected by postal self-completion questionnaires. RESULTS: Only seven internal pilot participants were recruited against a target of 40 participants at 7 months. Far fewer potential participants were identified than anticipated from IAPT services, probably because PWPs rarely considered GAD the main treatment priority. Of those identified, three-quarters declined participation; the majority (30/45) were reluctant to consider the possibility of randomisation to medication. LIMITATIONS: Poor recruitment was the main limiting factor, and the trial closed prematurely. Conclusions: It is unclear how much of the recruitment difficulty was a result of conducting the trial within a psychological therapy service and how much was possibly a result of difficulty identifying participants with primary GAD. FUTURE WORK: It may be easier to answer this important question by recruiting people from primary care rather than from those already engaged in a psychological treatment service.

Type: Article
Title: Pilot of a randomised controlled trial of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline versus cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety symptoms in people with generalised anxiety disorder who have failed to respond to low-intensity psychological treatments as defined by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3310/hta21450
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.3310/hta21450
Language: English
Additional information: © Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO 2017. This work was produced by Buszewicz et al. under the terms of a commissioning contract issued by the Secretary of State for Health. This issue may be freely reproduced for the purposes of private research and study and extracts (or indeed, the full report) may be included in professional journals provided that suitable acknowledgement is made and the reproduction is not associated with any form of advertising. Applications for commercial reproduction should be addressed to: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Health Care Sciences & Services, CLINICAL-TRIAL, SCALE, WORRY, UNCERTAINTY, DEPRESSION, ADULTS, MODEL, GAD, PREFERENCES, INTOLERANCE
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > ICH Pop, Policy and Practice Prog
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1572265
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