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Potential use of Internet-based screening for anxiety disorders: a pilot study

Authors

  • Michael Van Ameringen M.D. FRCPC,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
    2. Anxiety Disorders Clinic, McMaster University Medical Centre—HHS, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
    • Anxiety Disorders Clinic, 1F Clinic, McMaster University Medical Centre, Hamilton Health Sciences, Box 2000, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8N 3Z5
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  • Catherine Mancini M.D. FRCPC,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
    2. Anxiety Disorders Clinic, McMaster University Medical Centre—HHS, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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  • William Simpson B.Sc.,

    1. Anxiety Disorders Clinic, McMaster University Medical Centre—HHS, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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  • Beth Patterson B.Sc.N. B.Ed.

    1. Anxiety Disorders Clinic, McMaster University Medical Centre—HHS, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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  • The authors disclose the following financial relationships within the past 3 years: Dr. Van Ameringen has received research or grant support from Astra Zeneca, Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Janssen-Ortho Inc., NIH (National Institutes of Health), Novartis, Pfizer Inc., Sanofi-Aventis, Servier, and Wyeth-Ayerst. In addition, he has worked as a consultant for Biovail, Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen-Ortho Inc., Labopharm, Novartis, Pfizer Inc., Servier, Shire, and Wyeth-Ayerst. He is also a part of the speaker's bureau for Biovail, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen-Ortho Inc., Pfizer Inc., and Wyeth-Ayerst. Dr. Mancini has received research or grant support from Astra Zeneca, Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Janssen-Ortho Inc., NIH (National Institutes of Health), Novartis, Pfizer Inc., Sanofi-Aventis, Servier, and Wyeth-Ayerst. She has worked as a consultant for Shire. Dr. Mancini is also a part of the speaker's bureau for GlaxoSmithKline.

Abstract

Background: The Internet is a widely used resource for obtaining health information. Internet users are able to obtain anonymous information on diagnoses and treatment, seek confirmatory information, and are able to self-diagnose. We posted a self-report diagnostic screening questionnaire for DSM-IV anxiety and mood disorders (MACSCREEN) on our clinic website. Method: Three hundred and two individuals completed the MACSREEN. For those who qualified for a DSM-IV disorder, self-report symptom severity measures were completed for the specified disorder: Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology, self-report, Social Phobia Inventory, GAD-7, Davidson Trauma Scale, Panic and Agoraphobia Scale, and Yale/Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, self-report. Cutoff scores for each self-report measure were used to evaluate clinically significant symptom severity. Respondents were also asked to complete a series of questions regarding their use of the Internet for health information. Results: The mean age of the MACSCREEN sample was 35.2 years (±13.9), where the majority (67.2%) were female. The most frequently diagnosed conditions were social phobia (51.0%), major depressive disorder (32.4%), and generalized anxiety disorder (25.5%). Sixty-five percent of the sample met criteria for at least one disorder. Most respondents reported completing the MACSCREEN, as they were concerned they had an anxiety problem (62.3%). The majority of respondents reported seeking health information concerning specific symptoms they were experiencing (54.6%) and were planning to use the information to seek further assessment (60.3%). Conclusion: Individuals with clinically significant disorder appear to be using the Internet to self-diagnose and seek additional information. Depression and Anxiety, 2010.  © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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