Evaluation of a brief preventative treatment for panic disorder

Date of Completion

January 2001


Psychology, Clinical




Recent longitudinal studies suggest that it may be possible to identify people at high risk for developing panic disorder (PD) and apply preventative treatments before full-blown PD develops (Ehlers, 1995; Schmidt, Lerew & Jackson, 1997). Seventy-three college students at high risk for developing PD—defined as (1) scoring above 22 on the Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI), (2) reporting a history of infrequent panic attacks with at least one panic attack in the past year, and (3) never having met the diagnostic criteria for panic disorder as determined by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID-IV; First, Spitzer, Gibbon, & Williams, 1996)—were randomly assigned in a component analysis design to one of three experimental conditions: an anxiety sensitivity reduction intervention, an education-only intervention, and a notreatment control condition. Each intervention was conducted in a single session of approximately 45 minutes. Follow-up assessments were conducted at 2 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year post-treatment. At post-treatment, 23% of no-treatment participants, 10% of anxiety sensitivity reduction participants, and 5% of education-only participants met criteria for panic disorder a difference that was not significant. The three experimental conditions also resulted in significant but approximately equal improvement on direct measures of panic. ^