Anxiety Disorders | Efficacy Evaluation of a Unified Transdiagnostic Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders research study

What is the primary objective of this study?

Anxiety disorders are common, chronic, costly, debilitating to quality of life, and are more prevalent than any other class of disorders in every country in the world where surveys have been taken. Deepening understanding of the nature of anxiety and related emotional disorders during the last decade has revealed that commonalities in etiology and latent structure among these disorders supersedes differences. At the same time, examination of extant single diagnosis psychological treatment protocols (SDPs) for these disorders underscores mechanistic similarities. These findings suggested the possibility of distilling a set of psychological procedures that would comprise an innovative Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders (UP), and this protocol has now been developed. If efficacious, the UP may represent a more efficient and possibly more effective strategy which would render treatment implications of comorbidity, not otherwise specified (NOS) and subdefinitional threshold anxiety disorder conditions moot. The investigators now propose an evaluation of the efficacy of the UP in a group of patients with heterogeneous anxiety disorders by way of rigorous comparisons to existing evidence based SDPs benchmarked against a wait list control condition, using both statistical equivalence and superiority analyses. Additional aims include determining the durability of the UP relative to comparison conditions after treatment discontinuation, and ascertaining the differential impact of treatments on disorder specific symptoms vs. higher-order temperamental variables. Further analyses will indicate if changes in these higher order temperamental variables mediate long-term outcome as preliminary data suggests, and if this mechanism of action differs among treatments.

Who is eligible to participate?

Inclusion Criteria: - For inclusion, subjects will be males and females 18 years or older, fluent in the English language who have a principal DSM-IV diagnosis of SAD, PD/A, GAD, or OCD. In addition, to be eligible for participation, individuals must be willing to refrain from initiating additional treatment during the course of therapy unless mutually agreed upon with the therapists and the principal investigator; and willing to be randomly assigned to treatment conditions. Exclusion Criteria: - Patients will be excluded if they meet any of the following criteria: - Current DSM-IV diagnosis of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or organic mental disorder. - Clear and current suicidal risk. - Current or recent (past 90 days) history of substance abuse or drug dependence, with the exception of nicotine, marijuana, and caffeine. Individuals will also be excluded if they previously received an adequate trial of CBT or if their emotional symptomatology is due to a medical/physical condition in which case alternative treatment would be clinically indicated.

Which medical condition, disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury is researched?

Anxiety Disorders

Mood Disorders

Study Interventions

Interventions can include giving participants drugs, medical devices, procedures, vaccines, and other products that are either investigational or already available or noninvasive approaches such as surveys, education, and interviews.

Behavioral:Single Diagnosis Treatment ProtocolSDPs include: Managing Social Anxiety: A CBT Approach; Mastery of Anxiety and Panic-IV; Mastery of Anxiety and Worry-II; and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A CBT Approach

Behavioral:Unified Protocol (UP)The UP is designed to help patients learn how to confront and experience uncomfortable emotions and learn how to respond to their emotions in more adaptive ways. Individual treatment sessions will be conducted by experienced clinicians who will be trained in the administration of this protocol. A workbook will be provided to each patient as part of this manualized treatment. Treatment and session length of the UP will be matched to the SDPs for each principal diagnosis (see description above).

Study Arms

Research studies and clinical trials typically have two or more research arms. An arm is a group of people who receive the same treatment in the study.

Single Diagnosis Treatment ProtocolsFour disorder-specific cognitive-behavioral treatments will be conducted in accordance with treatment manuals of demonstrated efficacy. SDPs will be matched to the principal anxiety disorder diagnosis.

Unified ProtocolThe Unified Protocol for the Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders will be individually administered in accordance with a treatment protocol.

Waitlist ControlWaitlist participants will not receive treatment during a 16-week waitlist period, but will receive the treatment of their choice immediately following the 16 week waiting period.

Study Status


Start Date: December 2010

Completed Date: May 2017

Phase: N/A

Type: Interventional


Primary Outcome: Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule (ADIS): change over time

Secondary Outcome: Clinical Global Impression Severity (CGI-S) and Improvement Scales (CGI-I): change over time

Study sponsors, principal investigator, and references

Principal Investigator: David H Barlow, Ph.D.

Lead Sponsor: Boston University Charles River Campus

Collaborator: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

More information:

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