Cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders in Parkinson's disease: Design of a randomised controlled trial to assess clinical effectiveness and changes in cerebral connectivity

A. E. P. Mulders, A. J. H. Moonen, K. Dujardin, M. L. Kuijf, A. Duits, B. Flinois, R. L. H. Handels, R. Lopes, A. F. G. Leentjens*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Anxiety disorders occur in up to 35% of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and have a negative effect on motor symptoms and quality of life. To date, no clinical trials specifically targeting anxiety in PD patients have been published. Objective: To describe the rationale and methodology of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) that aims to study the clinical effectiveness, alterations in brain circuitry, and cost-effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for anxiety in PD. Methods: This study is a prospective, two-centre RCT in which sixty PD patients with anxiety will be randomised to CBT treatment and clinical monitoring (intervention group) or to clinical monitoring only (control group). The CBT module used in this study was specifically developed to address symptoms of anxiety in PD patients. Participants will undergo standardised clinical, cognitive and behavioural assessment at baseline and at 2 follow-up measurements, as well as resting-state fMRI and DTI scanning before and after the intervention. The primary outcome measure is changes in severity of anxiety symptoms. Secondary outcome measures involve long-term changes in anxiety symptoms, changes in functional and structural connectivity between limbic and frontal cortices, and cost-effectiveness of the treatment. The study is registered at the database under registration number NCT02648737. Conclusion: This study is the first that evaluates both the clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, as well as the biological impact of CBT for anxiety in PD patients that, if proven effective, will hopefully contribute to a better and evidence-based approach for these non-motor symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Design
  • Protocol
  • Randomised Controlled Trial
  • Parkinson's disease

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