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Keywords:

  • aged;
  • anxiety disorders;
  • cognitive therapy

Objective:  To examine and estimate the efficacy of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for late-life anxiety disorders.

Method:  A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing CBT with i) a waiting-list control condition and ii) an active control condition controlling for non-specific effects in patients aged over 60 years and suffering from an anxiety disorder. The main outcome parameter of individual studies, i.e. effect on anxiety, was pooled using the standardized mean difference (SMD).

Results:  Seven papers fulfilled the inclusion criteria, including nine randomized controlled comparisons for 297 patients. Anxiety symptoms were significantly more reduced following CBT than after either a waiting-list control condition [SMD = −0.44 (95 CI: −0.84 −0.04), P = 0.03] or an active control condition [SMD = −0.51 (95 CI: −0.81, −0.21), P<0.001]. Additionally, CBT significantly alleviated accompanying symptoms of worrying and depression.

Conclusion:  Cognitive-behavioural therapy is efficacious for the treatment of late-life anxiety disorders.