Information and Decision-Making Needs Among People with Anxiety Disorders: Results of an Online Survey

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Abstract

Background

People with anxiety disorders are faced with treatment decisions considerably affecting their life. Patient decision aids are aimed at enabling patients to deliberate treatment options based on individual values and to participate in medical decisions.

Objective

This is the first study to determine patients' information and decision-making needs as a pre-requisite for the development of patient decision aids for anxiety disorders.

Methods

An online cross-sectional survey was conducted between January and April 2013 on the e-health portal http://www.psychenet.de by using a self-administered questionnaire with items on internet use, online health information needs, role in decision making and important treatment decisions. Descriptive and inferential statistical as well as qualitative data analyses were performed.

Results

A total of 60 people with anxiety disorders with a mean age of 33.3 years (SD 10.5) participated in the survey. The most prevalent reasons for online health information search were the need for general information on anxiety disorders, the search for a physician or psychiatrist and the insufficiency of information given by the healthcare provider. Respondents experienced less shared and more autonomous decisions than they preferred. They assessed decisions on psychotherapy, medication, and treatment setting (inpatient or outpatient) as the most difficult decisions.

Conclusion

Our results confirm the importance of offering patient decision aids for people with anxiety disorders that encourage patients to participate in decision making by providing information about the pros and cons of evidence-based treatment options.

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