Cognitive behaviour therapy for generalized anxiety disorder: Is CBT equally efficacious in adults of working age and older adults?

Naoko Kishita, Ken Laidlaw

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The current meta-analysis compared the efficacy of CBT for GAD between adults of working age and older people. In addition, we conducted a qualitative content analysis of treatment protocols used in studies with older clients to explore potential factors that may enhance treatment outcomes with this particular client group. Applying the inclusion criteria resulted in the identification of 15 studies with 22 comparisons between CBT and control groups (770 patients). When examining overall effect sizes for CBT for GAD between older people and adults of working age there were no statistically significant differences in outcome. However, overall effect size of CBT for GAD was moderate for older people (g = 0.55, 95% CI 0.22–0.88) and large for adults of working age (g = 0.94, 95% CI 0.52–1.36), suggesting that there is still room for improvement in CBT with older people. The main difference in outcome between CBT for GAD between the two age groups was related to methodological quality in that no older people studies used an intention-to-treat design. The content analysis demonstrated that studies with older clients were conducted according to robust CBT protocols but did not take account of gerontological evidence to make them more age-appropriate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124–136
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Early online date16 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • meta-analysis
  • psychotherapy
  • cognitive behavior therapy
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • late life anxiety
  • older adults

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