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Insights for Leaders

New Analysis of BEACON Effectiveness for Severe Anxiety is Particularly Important in the Wake of COVID-19

Posted by the BEACON team on 28-Oct-2020 9:22:44 AM

As one of the most common forms of anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can have negative, lasting impact on peoples’ sense of well-being and ability to lead fulfilling lives. This form of anxiety is characterized by excessive, persistent, and distressing worry about potential future events or activities. Symptoms include restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and sleep disturbance, and affect an individual both at home and at work.

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While it has already been well-established that BEACON therapists, with the support of the BEACON digital cognitive behavioural therapy platform (iCBT), are successful in treating individuals with mild to moderate forms of GAD, we now know BEACON digital therapy is also effective in treating more severe symptoms of GAD. With the many challenges of 2020 affecting Canadians, our research could not be more timely or relevant.

A Snapshot of Anxiety Before and After COVID-19 Amongst BEACON Users

In reviewing attributes of BEACON users before March 1, 2020, 34% indicated GAD as their primary mental health concern. In the 5-month period since March 1, 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis emerged to touch Canadians’ daily lives, the proportion of users with GAD as their primary concern ballooned to 46%. What we’re seeing before versus after this COVID-19 triggered inflection point is that GAD has overtaken depression as the leading primary concern for users coming to BEACON.

Further, before March 1st, 32% of BEACON users with GAD as primary concern indicated severe symptoms at the start of therapy. For the 5-month period following March 1, the proportion with severe symptoms has seen a marked 10-point increase to 42%.

Why has COVID-19 increased the prevalence and severity of anxiety?

How BEACON is Successfully Treating Severe GAD

In light of the heightened importance of successfully treating even severe symptoms of GAD, we recently completed an analysis of 174 individuals who started BEACON therapy with a score of 10 or more on the GAD-7 (a standard severity measurement tool), which represents a widely accepted cut-off for identifying clinically significant anxiety.

From this analysis, we determined 61% of the group were not experiencing clinically significant anxiety as they completed BEACON therapy. We also saw 63% experienced ‘clinically significant’ improvement – a 4 point or larger drop on their GAD-7 scores – with 45% experiencing a 50% or greater reduction in symptoms. With these results we’re pleased to confirm effectiveness in treating severe levels of anxiety that are consistent with other first-line treatments for GAD including medications and face-to-face CBT.

During a time when so many Canadians are struggling with anxiety as they face uncertainty and unprecedented disruptions to daily life, we are confident in stating that BEACON is certainly an effective way to help more severe cases of GAD.


Interested in seeing detailed results? Request our analysis paper. 

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Topics: Dr. Peter Farvolden, Anxiety, CBT, Mental Health