Age-specific features of generalized anxiety disorder in older adults Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/0p096917p

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  • Development of a measure to assess counselor knowledge on the age-specific features of generalized anxiety disorder in older adults
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  • Older adults are the fastest growing population in the United States, and their numbers are expected to continue rising over the next few decades. The number of older adults with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety is also increasing. Increases in the population of older adults and in the incidence of anxiety in this population create the need for counseling clinicians to be knowledgeable of the unique needs of this group. Researchers have found differences between older and younger adults in their experiences of anxiety, which may make it difficult for clinicians to understand, assess, and treat anxiety in older adults. This dissertation contains two manuscripts focused on the age-specific features of generalized anxiety disorder in older adults. The first is a literature review. Major topics that emerged from the reviewed articles included: (a) older adults are often misdiagnosed with physical, medical or other mental illnesses when GAD is present but unrecognized, (b) frequently the presentation and experience of GAD in older adults has somatic origins, (c) frequently older adults demonstrate debilitating GAD symptoms with significant risk factors yet these symptoms fall short of the DSM-IV criteria for GAD and (d) older adults have a wider and different array of worry topics. The second manuscript is a research study. The research question was, "Can a unidimensional measure of counselor knowledge on the age-specific features of anxiety in older adults be developed?" The development of the measure was based upon content areas drawn from (a) the research literature, (b) the American Counseling Association gerontology competencies, and (c) feedback from an expert panel and mental health clinicians in the area of older adult anxiety. Reliability and factor analysis methods were employed to determine internal consistency of the measure and to determine the dimensional factor structure. Counselors from the U.S. Northwest (n = 100) were administered the measure to establish the reliability and factor structure information. Results indicated the measure had .74 internal consistency and possessed at least a bidimensional factor structure. This finding does not support the hypothesis that the factor structure of the COAAI is unidimensional. The findings of this study could be applied to further develop, validate and strengthen the ability to assess counselor knowledge on the age-specific features of older adult anxiety.
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