Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is frequently found in primary care settings and is highly prevalent among adolescents. The purpose of this study was to examine the cost effectiveness by provider type and therapy modality in treating adolescents (ages 13-17) with a GAD diagnosis (DSM-IV 300.02). A national insurance company in the United States provided outpatient and unidentifiable data for adolescent GAD cases (n = 2,932). These cases were used to analyze the cost effectiveness, total cost, treatment length, dropout, and readmission rates for the treatment of adolescents with GAD. Descriptive statistics signify that the mean cost of treatment for GAD in the first episode of care across all provider types is $439.28. Results revealed significant differences in cost effectiveness, total cost, treatment length, and readmission rates by provider type and therapy modality. MFTs and counselors were most cost effective, had the lowest total cost and number of sessions, as well as the lowest readmission rate among the provider types. In contrast, MSWs and psychologists were the least cost effective, had the highest number of sessions and the highest readmission rate. Therapy modality comparisons indicated that family therapy is most cost effective followed by individual, then mixed therapy modalities. Significantly fewer sessions were found when conducting family therapy upon treating adolescents with GAD. There were no significant differences in dropout by provider type, therapy modality or age group. The results of total cost by gender were also insignificant. Professional and clinical implications and future directions for research will be discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


Document Type





generalized anxiety disorder, adolescence, mental health care, therapy modality, provider type, family therapy, dropout, readmission, diagnosis, mixed therapy, Cigna, cost, cost effectiveness, number of sessions, treatment length