A randomized controlled trial of telephone-delivered cognitive-behavioral therapy for late-life anxiety disorders

Gretchen A. Brenes, Michael E. Miller, Jeff D. Williamson, W. Vaughn McCall, Mark Knudson, Melinda A. Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Older adults face a number of barriers to receiving psychotherapy, such as a lack of transportation and access to providers. One way to overcome such barriers is to provide treatment by telephone. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy delivered by telephone (CBT-T) to older adults diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial. SETTING: Participants' homes. PARTICIPANTS: Sixty participants age 60 and older with a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or anxiety disorder not otherwise specified. INTERVENTION: CBT-T versus information-only comparison. MEASUREMENTS: Coprimary outcomes included worry (Penn State Worry Questionnaire) and general anxiety (State Trait Anxiety Inventory). Secondary outcomes included clinician-rated anxiety (Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale), anxiety sensitivity (Anxiety Sensitivity Index), depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory), quality of life (SF-36), and sleep (Insomnia Severity Index). Assessments were completed prior to randomization, immediately upon completion of treatment, and 6 months after completing treatment. RESULTS: CBT-T was superior to information-only in reducing general anxiety (ES = 0.71), worry (ES = 0.61), anxiety sensitivity (ES = 0.85), and insomnia (ES = 0.82) at the posttreatment assessment; however, only the reductions in worry were maintained by the 6-month follow-up assessment (ES = 0.80). CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that CBT-T may be efficacious in reducing anxiety and worry in older adults, but additional sessions may be needed to maintain these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-716
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • elderly
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • panic disorder
  • telephone-delivered psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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