Study designs of evaluations included in the review
Randomised controlled trials were eligible for inclusion in the review.
Specific interventions included in the review
Studies that compared an evidence-based treatment (EBT) with waiting list, usual care, alternative intervention or placebo intervention were eligible for inclusion. The review only included studies that met EBT criteria. To be classified as an EBT, interventions had to be supported by evidence from at least two published peer-reviewed studies with at least 30 participants randomised to the same treatment, or most studies or most outcomes within studies had to show positive treatment effects. In addition, studies had to have documented evidence of adherence to a specific treatment protocol (see Other Publications of Related Interest).
The included studies evaluated cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT; defined in the review as including relaxation and cognitive restructuring), cognitive therapy (CT; defined in the review as not including relaxation), relaxation training and supportive therapy (ST). CBT interventions included education, self-monitoring, relaxation training, exposure to situations provoking anxiety, systematic desensitisation and cognitive restructuring; some studies also included other elements. The interventions were provided in group and individual formats.
Participants included in the review
Studies of participants with a mean age of 55 years or over, who had subjective complaints of anxiety or had a diagnosis of anxiety according to the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV criteria, were eligible for inclusion. The mean age of the participants in the included studies ranged from 66 to 72 years. Some of the included studies included patients with panic disorder and social phobia.
Outcomes assessed in the review
Studies that reported at least one objective measure of anxiety were eligible for inclusion. The included studies measured anxiety using various means (details of some of these were reported).
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
Two reviewers selected the studies and any discrepancies were resolved by consensus.