Research Use of Clinical Measures for Anxiety in the Recent Psychological Literature

By Piotrowski, Chris; Gallant, Natoshia | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 2009 | Go to article overview

Research Use of Clinical Measures for Anxiety in the Recent Psychological Literature


Piotrowski, Chris, Gallant, Natoshia, Journal of Instructional Psychology


This study reports on recent trends in the psychological research literature on the use of measures in the assessment of anxiety. An analysis of PsycINFO, from 2000-2005, showed that the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Anxiety Sensitivity Index had the highest hit rates. The results indicate that many anxiety instruments that are popular in clinical settings have a sparse research base. These findings point to a need for instructors to address the importance of the level of research credibility of mental health assessment instruments in their teaching.

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The study of anxiety, anxiety disorders, and stress syndromes is a prominent area in the field of psychopathology (Antony & Rowa, 2005). Yet few studies have reported on the frequency of clinical test use in the measurement of anxiety. Piotrowski and Lubin (1990), in a survey on tests used by health psychologists, found that the StateTrait Anxiety Inventory and the Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale were among the most popular tests noted in the area of anxiety assessment. Recently, several major reviews on empirically-based measures of anxiety for children and adults have appeared (e.g., Antony, Orsillo, & Roemer, 2001; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2003).Although these investigators identified the most popular measures of anxiety in clinical practice, little is known about the extent of published research on individual tests. Thus, a question remains as to whether the popularity of anxiety measures in practice reflects the research literature on individual tests.

To address this issue, a list of the most popular tests in the area of anxiety was obtained from the compilation of tests noted by Antony et al. (2001). Measures for related areas such as panic disorder, social phobia, and stress syndromes were not included. The official name of each anxiety test or measure was subjected to a search in PsycINFO, limited to September 2000-2005. This restricted time frame provides an avenue to gauge a contemporary perspective on the popularity of measures of anxiety in the psychological literature. Since the official names of tests contain multiple words, an exact phrase command, using quotation marks, served as the input term (e.g., "Beck Anxiety Inventory"). According to PsycINFO guidelines, the Citation and Abstract search option was used to identify references for which the designated test was noted in the title or abstract, or as an identifier/keyword in the reference record.

Table 1 presents the rank order, based on frequency of reference hits, of those anxiety tests most identified in PsycINFO in recent years. These data perhaps reflect the rapid advance in the clinical popularity of the Beck Anxiety Inventory (Piotrowski, 1999). …

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