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The definition of treatment resistance in anxiety disorders: a Delphi method-based consensus guideline

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Hamish McAllister-WilliamsORCiD


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© 2024 World Psychiatric Association.Anxiety disorders are very prevalent and often persistent mental disorders, with a considerable rate of treatment resistance which requires regulatory clinical trials of innovative therapeutic interventions. However, an explicit definition of treatment-resistant anxiety disorders (TR-AD) informing such trials is currently lacking. We used a Delphi method-based consensus approach to provide internationally agreed, consistent and clinically useful operational criteria for TR-AD in adults. Following a summary of the current state of knowledge based on international guidelines and an available systematic review, a survey of free-text responses to a 29-item questionnaire on relevant aspects of TR-AD, and an online consensus meeting, a panel of 36 multidisciplinary international experts and stakeholders voted anonymously on written statements in three survey rounds. Consensus was defined as ≥75% of the panel agreeing with a statement. The panel agreed on a set of 14 recommendations for the definition of TR-AD, providing detailed operational criteria for resistance to pharmacological and/or psychotherapeutic treatment, as well as a potential staging model. The panel also evaluated further aspects regarding epidemiological subgroups, comorbidities and biographical factors, the terminology of TR-AD vs. “difficult-to-treat” anxiety disorders, preferences and attitudes of persons with these disorders, and future research directions. This Delphi method-based consensus on operational criteria for TR-AD is expected to serve as a systematic, consistent and practical clinical guideline to aid in designing future mechanistic studies and facilitate clinical trials for regulatory purposes. This effort could ultimately lead to the development of more effective evidence-based stepped-care treatment algorithms for patients with anxiety disorders.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Domschke K, Seuling PD, Schiele MA, Bandelow B, Batelaan NM, Bokma WA, Branchi I, Broich K, Burkauskas J, Davies SJC, Dell'Osso B, Fagan H, Fineberg NA, Furukawa TA, Hofmann SG, Hood S, Huneke NTM, Latas M, Lidbetter N, Masdrakis V, McAllister-Williams RH, Nardi AE, Pallanti S, Penninx BWJH, Perna G, Pilling S, Pini S, Reif A, Seedat S, Simons G, Srivastava S, Steibliene V, Stein DJ, Stein MB, van Ameringen M, van Balkom AJLM, van der Wee N, Zwanzger P, Baldwin DS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: World Psychiatry

Year: 2024

Volume: 23

Issue: 1

Pages: 113-123

Print publication date: 12/01/2024

Online publication date: 12/01/2024

Acceptance date: 02/04/2023

ISSN (print): 1723-8617

ISSN (electronic): 2051-5545

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc


DOI: 10.1002/wps.21177


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