Internet screening for anxiety disorders: Treatment-seeking outcomes in a three-month follow-up study
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Although many people use the internet to diagnose mental health problems, little is known about the relationship between internet self-diagnosis and treatment-seeking. The MACSCREEN (a validated, self-report screening tool for anxiety and depression) was posted on our clinic homepage and respondents were invited to take an anxiety test. Three months after completing the MACSREEN and a variety of symptom severity scales, respondents were emailed a follow up questionnaire asking about treatment-seeking behaviours. Of the 770 MACSCREEN respondents, 103 completed the follow-up questionnaire. Of these, 100% met criteria for at least one anxiety or mood disorder diagnosis and 51% sought treatment after completing the MACSCREEN. In the 49% who did not seek treatment, fear of medication (57%), discomfort talking to their doctor about anxiety (28%) and the belief that symptoms were not severe enough (28%) were cited as barriers. Compared to non-seekers, treatment-seekers were significantly more likely to meet screening criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Depression. Higher Sheehan Disability Scale scores and being married (versus single) significantly increased the odds of treatment-seeking, suggesting that functional impairment and disease burden on the family may be stronger predictors of treatment seeking than overall severity of symptoms.
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