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Br J Gen Pract. 1990 Jul;40(336):289-94.

Controlled comparison of pharmacological and psychological treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in primary care.

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Department of Psychology, University of Stirling.


A sample of 101 patients with generalized anxiety disorder were randomly allocated to one of five groups--diazepam, placebo, cognitive-behaviour therapy, diazepam plus cognitive-behaviour therapy, or placebo plus cognitive-behaviour therapy--and treated over 10 weeks in a primary care setting. All groups received a similar amount of contact with the psychologist and general practitioner. The greatest improvement in ratings of severity of symptoms and overall change in symptoms occurred with cognitive-behaviour therapy combined with diazepam; cognitive-behaviour therapy alone also performed well and cognitive-behaviour therapy plus placebo performed slightly less well. Diazepam alone showed improvement relative to placebo alone. There was a high level of agreement between ratings by the general practitioners, psychologist, and the patients of the response to treatment. At six months follow-up there was no difference between treatment groups in the proportion of patients receiving psychotropic medication after the end of the study. However, cognitive-behaviour therapy, either alone or in combination with drug or placebo, showed the lowest incidence of referral for psychological or psychiatric treatment at six months follow-up.

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