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Treatment of specific phobia in older adults

Authors Nancy A Pachana, Rana M Woodward, Gerard JA Byrne

Published 15 October 2007 Volume 2007:2(3) Pages 469—476

Nancy A Pachana1, Rana M Woodward1, Gerard JA Byrne2

1School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia 2School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Abstract: Phobias are common in later life, yet treatment research in this population remains scant. The efficacy of exposure therapy, in combination with other Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) components, in the treatment of specific phobia with a middle and older aged sample was examined. Sixteen adults aged 45–68 with DSM-IV diagnosis of a specific phobia received a manualized intervention over ten weeks, and were compared with a control group. Results indicated significant time effects in the treatment group for the primary outcome variables of phobic severity and avoidance as well as secondary outcome variables including depression and anxiety. Symptom presence and severity also significantly declined in the treatment group. No significant changes in state anxiety were noted across the treatment period. Such results provide support for the efficacy of exposure combined with CBT treatment for specific phobia in middle to older aged adults.

Keywords: anxiety, phobia, older adults, cognitive behavioral therapy

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