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Systematic review and meta-analysis of dropout rates in individual psychotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder

journal contribution
posted on 2017-12-01, 00:00 authored by E Gersh, David HallfordDavid Hallford, S M Rice, N Kazantzis, H Gersh, B Gersh, C A McCarty
BACKGROUND: Despite being a relatively prevalent and debilitating disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the second least studied anxiety disorder and among the most difficult to treat. Dropout from psychotherapy is concerning as it is associated with poorer outcomes, leads to service inefficiencies and can disproportionately affect disadvantaged populations. No study to date has calculated a weighted mean dropout rate for GAD and explored associated correlates. METHODS: A systematic review was conducted using PsycINFO, Medline and Embase databases, identifying studies investigating individual psychotherapies for adults with GAD. Forty-five studies, involving 2224 participants, were identified for meta-analysis. RESULTS: The weighted mean dropout rate was 16.99% (95% confidence interval 14.42%-19.91%). The Q-statistic indicated significant heterogeneity among studies. Moderator analysis and meta-regressions indicated no statistically significant effect of client age, sex, symptom severity, comorbidity, treatment type, study type (randomized trial or not), study quality, number of sessions or therapist experience. CONCLUSIONS: In research investigating psychotherapy for GAD, approximately one in six clients can be expected to drop out of treatment. Dropout rate was not significantly moderated by the client, therapist or treatment variables investigated. Future research should specify the definition of dropout, reasons for dropout and associated correlates to assist the field's progression.



Journal of anxiety disorders




25 - 33




Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2017, Elsevier Ltd