Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 9, Issue 11, pp 606–615 | Cite as

Necessary but not sufficient

The effect of screening and feedback on outcomes of primary care patients with untreated anxiety
  • Susan D. Mathias
  • Sheila K. Fifer
  • Peter D. Mazonson
  • Deborah P. Lubeck
  • Don P. Buesching
  • Donald L Patrick
Original Articles


Objective: To consider the impact on primary care patient outcomes of using both a screener to determine elevated anxiety levels among patients with previously undetected anxiety and a physician intervention to inform physicians of their patients’ conditions.

Design: Participating physicians were randomized to either the demonstration or the control arm, and patients were assigned to a study arm based on the randomization of their physicians. The patients were followed for change in outcome measures during the five-month study period.

Setting: A mixed-model health maintenance organization serving approximately 110,000 enrollees in central Colorado.

Patients/participants: 573 patients who had unrecognized and untreated anxiety identified from the approximately 8,000 patients who completed the waiting room screening questionnaire.

Interventions: A physician intervention served the dual function of 1) providing an educational demonstration of anxiety in the primary care setting and 2) providing a reporting system for summarizing the anxiety symptom levels and functioning status of the patients enrolled in the study.

Measurements and main results: Patient outcomes were measured as changes in global anxiety scores, functioning and well-being, and patients’ reports of global improvements.

Conclusions: The findings indicate that this method of reporting symptoms and functioning status to primary care physicians did not significantly change patient outcomes. Improvement in outcomes appeared to be more closely associated with the patient’s severity of psychological distress.

Key words

outcomes screeners physician intervention anxiety 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan D. Mathias
    • 1
  • Sheila K. Fifer
    • 1
  • Peter D. Mazonson
    • 1
  • Deborah P. Lubeck
    • 1
    • 2
  • Don P. Buesching
    • 3
  • Donald L Patrick
    • 4
  1. 1.Technology Assessment GroupSan Francisco
  2. 2.the Department of MedicineStanford UniversityPalo Alto
  3. 3.the Upjohn CompanyKalamazoo
  4. 4.the School of Public HealthUniversity of WashingtonSeattle

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