Correlates of anxiety symptoms in physically disabled older women

Gretchen A. Brenes*, Jack M. Guralnik, Jeff Williamson, Linda P. Fried, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: The authors describe characteristics that are associated with chronic anxiety symptoms and examine the use of anxiolytic and antidepressant medications in physically disabled women with and without symptoms of anxiety. Methods: Participants were 791 physically disabled women age 65 + years who participated in the Women's Health and Aging Study for 2-3 years. Anxiety symptoms were measured with four questions from the Hopkins Symptom Checklist, and women were categorized as having no anxiety, intermittent anxiety, and chronic anxiety symptoms. Health-related characteristics, medications, physical functioning, physical activity, and psychosocial variables were also measured. Results: Forty-nine percent of women reported no anxiety symptoms; 41% reported intermittent symptoms; and 10% reported chronic symptoms of anxiety. Depressive symptoms and lack of emotional support were significant correlates of intermittent anxiety symptoms, whereas depressive symptoms, negative life events, and lack of emotional support were significant correlates of chronic anxiety symptoms. Over the course of 3 years, 20.3% of women with no anxiety, 33.0% of women with intermittent anxiety, and 48.7% of women with chronic anxiety symptoms took anxiolytic and/or antidepressant medications. Conclusion: Anxiety symptoms are common among disabled older women. Psychosocial variables were significantly different in women with intermittent or chronic anxiety symptoms, versus women without anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

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