Researchers Uncover Subtle Differences in Anxiety Assessment

Posted on December 24th, 2012
Posted in Recovery

Anxiety is a common emotion. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point. Clinicians need an objective tool for assessing whether a person is experiencing problematic anxiety referred to as clinical anxiety. Clinicians would also be helped in treating patients with anxiety if they were able to pinpoint where the anxiety is most problematic. For example: does the person react to stressful situations with excessive anxiety or does the person’s anxiety, once excited, last overlong? The Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-T) is a tool that, among other aspects of anxiety, helps to make these assessments.

A person’s reaction level to stress is called anxiety reactivity. How long the anxiety persists after exposure to stress is called anxiety preservation. A recent article discussed an Australian study which attempted to isolate anxiety reactivity and preservation in order to determine how each one impacted a person’s overall STAI-T score. The study involved 39 university aged subjects. The interviewer in the study administered the STAI-T to the subjects and then followed up with questions directed particularly at anxiety response and duration.

The study revealed that reactivity and preservation have unique causes and effects on overall anxiety. The evidence for independent impacts was demonstrated among all the subjects interviewed. This suggested to the researchers a need for more precise measures which could better reflect the differences between anxiety reactivity and anxiety preservation. Refining the STAI-T tool so that it would reflect the subtleties in the two, say the Australian researchers, would yield an instrument better equipped to evaluate patient conditions. That, in turn, should produce better anxiety treatment.

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