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The European Journal of Psychiatry

Print version ISSN 0213-6163


BERGER, Ariel et al. Patterns of healthcare utilization in patients with generalized anxiety disorder in general practice in Germany. Eur. J. Psychiat. [online]. 2009, vol.23, n.2, pp.90-100. ISSN 0213-6163.

Background and Objectives: To describe patterns of healthcare utilization among patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in general practitioner (GP) settings in Germany. Methods: Using a large computerized database with information from GP practices across Germany, we identified all patients, aged > 18 years, with diagnoses of, or prescriptions for, GAD (ICD-10 diagnosis code F41.1) between October 1, 2003 and September 30, 2004 ("GAD patients"). We also constituted an age- and sex-matched comparison group, consisting of randomly selected patients without any GP encounters or prescriptions for anxiety or depression (a common comorbidity in GAD) during the same period. GAD patients were then compared to those in the matched comparison group over the one-year study period. Results: The study sample consisted of 3340 GAD patients and an equal number of matched comparators. Mean age was 53.2 years; 66.3% were women. Over the 12-month study period, GAD patients were more likely than matched comparators to have encounters for various comorbidities, including sleep disorders (odds ratio [OR] = 6.75 [95% CI = 5.31, 8.57]), substance abuse disorders (3.91 [2.89, 5.28]), and digestive system disorders (2.62 [2.36, 2.91]) (all p <0.01). GAD patients averaged 5.6 more GP encounters (10.5 [SD = 8.8] vs 4.9 [5.7] for comparison group) and 1.4 more specialist referrals (2.3 [2.9] vs 0.9 [1.7]) (both p <0.01). Only 58.3% of GAD patients received some type of psychotropic medication (i.e., benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and/or sedatives/hypnotics). Conclusions: Patients with GAD in GP practices in Germany have more clinically recognized comorbidities and higher levels of healthcare utilization than patients without anxiety or depression.

Keywords : Anxiety Disorders; Anxiety; Healthcare Research; Utilization.

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