A quality improvement project aimed at adapting primary care to ensure the delivery of evidence-based psychotherapy for adult anxiety

Mark D. Williams, Craig N. Sawchuk, Nathan D. Shippee, Kristin J. Somers, Summer L. Berg, Jay D. Mitchell, Angela B. Mattson, David J. Katzelnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Primary care patients frequently present with anxiety with prevalence ratios up to 30%. Brief cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) has been shown in meta-analytic studies to have a strong effect size in the treatment of anxiety. However, in surveys of anxious primary care patients, nearly 80% indicated that they had not received CBT. In 2010, a model of CBT (Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management (CALM)) adapted to primary care for adult anxiety was published based on results of a randomised controlled trial. This project aimed to integrate an adaptation of CALM into one primary care practice, using results from the published research as a benchmark with the secondary intent to spread a successful model to other practices. A quality improvement approach was used to translate the CALM model of CBT for anxiety into one primary care clinic. Plan-Do-Study-Act steps are highlighted as important steps towards our goal of comparing our outcomes with benchmarks from original research. Patients with anxiety as measured by a score of 10 or higher on the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7 item scale (GAD-7) were offered CBT as delivered by licensed social workers with support by a PhD psychologist. Outcomes were tracked and entered into an electronic registry, which became a critical tool upon which to adapt and improve our delivery of psychotherapy to our patient population. Challenges and adaptations to the model are discussed. Our 6-month response rates on the GAD-7 were 51%, which was comparable with that of the original research (57%). Quality improvement methods were critical in discovering which adaptations were needed before spread. Among these, embedding a process of measurement and data entry and ongoing feedback to patients and therapists using this data are critical step towards sustaining and improving the delivery of CBT in primary care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000066
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

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© Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited.


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