Long-term outcome of pharmacological and psychological treatment for panic disorder with agoraphobia: A 2-year naturalistic follow-up

E. De Beurs*, A. J.L.M. Van Balkom, R. Van Dyck, A. Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

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Two years after completion of a controlled outcome study of treatments for panic disorder with agoraphobia, patients were revisited and interviewed about their complaints. In the initial study, four treatments had been compared: (i) fluvoxamine combined with exposure; (ii) placebo medication plus exposure; (iii) psychological panic management plus exposure; and (iv) exposure alone. Comparison of the results at post-test had revealed superior efficacy of fluvoxamine combined with exposure over the other three treatments in reducing agoraphobic avoidance. The current naturalistic follow-up study investigated the long-term efficacy of the treatments with regard to abatement of complaints and reduced demand for further treatment. In addition, we examined whether patients were able to taper off the study medication without a recurrence of complaints. In total, 71 of the 76 patients of the original trial (93%) were interviewed. Comparison of the mean level of psychopathology at follow-up revealed no difference between the original treatment groups. The effect in the fluvoxamine plus exposure group was maintained, but was no longer superior, due to further improvements in the other treatment groups. Most patients received additional treatment during the follow-up period, usually because the 12 treatment sessions in the controlled study had yielded insufficient improvement. There was a trend for patients who received the fluvoxamine plus exposure treatment to require less aftercare than those who received the other treatments. Finally, almost 50% of the patients who had received medication in the original trial were able to taper off the use of fluvoxamine without a recurrence of complaints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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