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The role of values-consistent behavior in generalized anxiety disorder



Background: Theory and research suggest that generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is associated with diminished quality of life and restriction in valued action. The purpose of this study was to examine the relevance of values-consistent behavior (valued action) in understanding the impairment in quality of life in GAD. Method: Treatment-seeking clients with a principal diagnosis of GAD (n = 30) were compared with demographically matched nonanxious controls (n = 30) using self-report measures. Results: Participants with GAD reported significantly less valued action compared with controls, and within the GAD group, diminished valued action was not fully explained by depression comorbidity. Valued action was significantly correlated with measures of experiential avoidance, distress about emotions, and quality of life. Further, consistent with a theoretical model of GAD, restrictions in valued action contributed unique variance to diminished quality of life over and above the contributions of gender, GAD severity, experiential avoidance, distress about emotions, and depression comorbidity. Finally, an acceptance-based behavioral therapy significantly improved self-reports of valued action for GAD clients with 40% achieving clinically significant change in this domain. Conclusion: The findings provide preliminary support for the relevance of valued action in understanding the functional impairment associated with GAD, and the beneficial effects of an acceptance-based behavior therapy in increasing valued action. Depression and Anxiety, 2011.  © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.