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Original Investigation
May 22, 2006

A Brief Measure for Assessing Generalized Anxiety Disorder: The GAD-7

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Biometrics Research Department, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York (Drs Spitzer and Williams); Regenstrief Institute for Health Care and Department of Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis (Dr Kroenke); and Department of Psychosomatic and General Internal Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany (Dr Löwe).

Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(10):1092-1097. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.10.1092
Abstract

Background  Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most common mental disorders; however, there is no brief clinical measure for assessing GAD. The objective of this study was to develop a brief self-report scale to identify probable cases of GAD and evaluate its reliability and validity.

Methods  A criterion-standard study was performed in 15 primary care clinics in the United States from November 2004 through June 2005. Of a total of 2740 adult patients completing a study questionnaire, 965 patients had a telephone interview with a mental health professional within 1 week. For criterion and construct validity, GAD self-report scale diagnoses were compared with independent diagnoses made by mental health professionals; functional status measures; disability days; and health care use.

Results  A 7-item anxiety scale (GAD-7) had good reliability, as well as criterion, construct, factorial, and procedural validity. A cut point was identified that optimized sensitivity (89%) and specificity (82%). Increasing scores on the scale were strongly associated with multiple domains of functional impairment (all 6 Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form General Health Survey scales and disability days). Although GAD and depression symptoms frequently co-occurred, factor analysis confirmed them as distinct dimensions. Moreover, GAD and depression symptoms had differing but independent effects on functional impairment and disability. There was good agreement between self-report and interviewer-administered versions of the scale.

Conclusion  The GAD-7 is a valid and efficient tool for screening for GAD and assessing its severity in clinical practice and research.

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