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Evaluation of Effectiveness of Panic Anxiety

Associate Professor Dr Julian Hafner and Jasmine Arthur - Jones

INTRODUCTION

The Panic Anxiety Management Workshop is for people with an Anxiety Disorder and their carers. It was designed by people who have recovered from an Anxiety Disorder. The Sub components of the Workshop are

  • Information relating to Anxiety Disorders: symptoms, panic/anxiety attacks, dissociation, causes, secondary conditions eg depression, Agoraphobia, drug issues, alcohol abuse;
  • Meditation: how, why, where and when plus a practical session;
  • Cognitive: teaching participants how to work with their thinking, how to work with dissociation, panic attacks, and the major Anxiety Disorder fears
  • The Working Through Process to Recovery: varying factors associated with recovery process; and
  • Self Issues: dealing with 'Who am I'.

This Workshop was conducted over a 2 day period, usually the weekend. This paper presents the results of a 18 month study conducted by the Panic Anxiety Disorder Association in conjunction with Associate Professor Dr Julian Hafner, Dibden Research Unit, Glenside Campus, South Australia Mental Health Services, Adelaide. The emphasis will be on presenting the comparative results obtained from people diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder attending the 2 day Panic Anxiety Management Workshops held in Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory. Recovery rates are obtained via comparison of initial contact data obtained from participants i.e. when they attended the weekend Workshop and Follow Up data i.e 3 months after attending the weekend Workshop.
Assessments were also made of the effectiveness of the Panic Anxiety Management Workshop by the individual participants Data is also compiled from participant's opinion of the effectiveness of other therapy modalities available for people diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder.

METHOD

The Panic/Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire (Appendix 1) and Therapy/Workshop Assessment Questionnaire (Appendix 2) were designed by Bronwyn Fox (Panic Anxiety Disorder Association) and Associate Professor Dr Julian Hafner. The Fear Questionnaire usually given to Anxiety Disorder patients was discounted as appropriate for this study by Bronwyn Fox after consultation with Dr Hafner.

A previous pilot study conducted by Dr Hafner/B.Fox which incorporated the Fear Questionnaire was questioned by participants as to it's accurate measurement of their Anxiety Disorder. Preference was given by the clients to the Symptom Questionnaire. The Panic/Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire also included primary personal data such as participant's name, sex, age, and Anxiety Disorder diagnosis. Questions 37 through 41 of the Panic/Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire relate to Descriptors of a panic attack as shown from previous studies undertaken by Bronwyn Fox. These Descriptors, although not found in current literature regarding Panic Attacks, are identified by people actually having Panic Attacks as descriptive of their experience. The Therapy/Workshop Assessment Questionnaire obtained data such as participant's name, gender, age, marital status, therapies previously tried and their rate of effectiveness, effectiveness of the Panic/Anxiety Management Workshop they had just attended, what they had learnt from the Workshop,and personal suggestions or comments about the course. Panic Anxiety Management Workshops were held every three (3) months initially, then every 4 months thereafter in Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory over a period of 18 months. Those people attending the Workshop were given a choice as to whether they wished to participate in the study, therefore total attendance figures far exceed the study participant figures. On the first day of the Panic Anxiety Management Workshop, people in attendance were given the Panic/Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire and on the following day the Therapy/Workshop Assessment Questionnaire. Those people diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder wishing to participate in the Effectiveness study returned their filled in Questionnaires on the final day of the Workshop. These completed Questionnaires/ Assessments were given to Dr Julian Hafner for analysis. Three (3) months after the initial contact, the Panic/Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire was sent to those participating in the study to be filled in and returned to Dr Hafner as Follow Up data. Comparison of degree of severity of Panic/Anxiety Disorder symptoms from initial contact to the 3 month Follow Up indicate the recovery rate of Anxiety Disorder participants. The data is compiled from a total of 16 Workshops.

RESULTS

A total of 310 people with an Anxiety Disorder participated in the Effectiveness study. Figure 1 shows the age distribution, with a mean age 41.6 years (SD=12.4, range=12 - 76). Gender distribution is 264 (or 73.1%) female and 97 (or 26.9%) male. Percentile distribution of marital status of participants is shown is as follows: single 17.7%; married 65.2%; divorced 8.1%; separated 3.3%; and widowed 5.7%. State of origin distribution of participants was Western Australia 109 (or 30.1%); Queensland 203 (or 56.1%); and Northern Territory 50 (or 13.8%). Percentile distribution of primary Anxiety Disorder diagnosis of Effectiveness Study participants are shown in Figure 1.
Table 1. Percentile distribution of Anxiety Disorder disgnosis of Evaluation participants.

 Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis

Percent of Evaluation participants

 Panic Disorder 50.6%
Generalised Anxiety Disorder 42.3%
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 5.5%
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 10%
Social Phobia (Anxiety) 14.2%
Specific Phobia 8.1%
Other (Agoraphobia etc) 7.4%
Primary Anxiety Disorder diagnoses are specified in DSM IV.

 

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