The objective was to assess the prevalence and impact of anxiety disorders on service utilization among Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients with schizophrenia.
This cross-sectional study examined diagnostic, utilization, and medication records included in the VHA National Psychosis Registry. Relationships between schizophrenia and anxiety disorders were evaluated along demographic and service utilization dimensions.
During fiscal year 2011, 23.8% (N=20,722) of 87,006 VHA patients with schizophrenia were diagnosed as having a comorbid anxiety disorder; 15.2% of the sample had a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis and 8.6% a non-PTSD anxiety disorder. Comorbid anxiety disorders were associated with increased psychiatric comorbidity (depression, personality disorder, and substance use disorder), higher rates of psychiatric and medical hospitalization, and increased utilization of outpatient mental health services.
Anxiety disorders are common among individuals with schizophrenia within the VHA and appeared in this study to convey additional disability in terms of psychiatric comorbidity and the need for increased psychiatric care. Future research should investigate ways to improve detection and enhance treatment provided to this population.