Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

The recognition process of youth with problematic anxiety in general practice

Do general practitioners recognize children with or at risk of problematic anxiety and is there a pattern that might help differentiate those with and without anxiety disorders in general practice?

2017 - 2020
Semiha Aydin
Profile area: Health, prevention and the human life cycle (LU)


Study design and methodology

We use various methods to answer this question. First we presented general practitioners with descriptions of typical patient histories that we had developed to test whether the often found underrecognition of anxiety starts already at the first diagnostic interpretations general practitioners make. Next, to learn from the recognition process of those who were ultimately recognized with anxiety, we inspected referral letters written in general practice of youth that were referred to mental healthcare. As a third step the referral letters were linked to questionnaire data to quantify the added value of each next step starting with the information on referral letters, questionnaire data obtained from parents, teachers, children and adolescents themselves, and the final clinical diagnosis psychologist or psychiatrists make. Lastly, we will search for early differences in symptom presentation of children in general practice that were later on found to have an anxiety disorder.

Study goal

We aim to find patterns that might improve the recognition of anxiety disorders in general practice. Their timely recognition falls behind, although effective interventions exist. The recognition of anxiety disorders is important since they form the most common mental health problem, have an early age of onset and persist into adulthood when not treated. The general practitioner might be of meaning given their lifespan approach and the many physical signs of anxiety.

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