Self-help strategies for sub-threshold anxiety: A Delphi consensus study to find messages suitable for population-wide promotion Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Many self-help strategies have been recommended for anxiety, but it is not clear which strategies are most effective and could be encouraged as part of an early intervention approach. This study used the Delphi expert consensus method to identify which strategies for mild (sub-threshold) anxiety are thought to be helpful and feasible to implement for individuals without professional assistance. METHODS:Participants were an international sample of 51 clinicians/researchers and 32 consumer advocates with expertise in anxiety. The scientific and lay literature was systematically searched for strategies claimed to be effective for anxiety. Participants rated the likely helpfulness of each strategy in reducing sub-threshold anxiety (related to generalised anxiety, social anxiety, or non-specific anxiety symptoms) and the feasibility of implementation in an iterative process across three questionnaire rounds. RESULTS:66 out of 324 candidate strategies were endorsed by at least 80% of both consumers and clinicians/researchers as likely to be helpful, and 18 were judged as feasible to carry out. Endorsed strategies were most frequently related to cognitive strategies and other psychological methods, interpersonal strategies, reducing physical tension, and lifestyle strategies. Few strategies were endorsed that were related to diet, supplements, or complementary medicine. LIMITATIONS:Findings may not apply to other forms of mild anxiety related to panic attacks or specific phobias. CONCLUSIONS:This study contributes to the evidence-base on strategies that individuals can use to improve mild anxiety symptoms. Research is now required to evaluate whether promoting the strategies can help reduce the overall community burden from anxiety disorders.

publication date

  • 2016