Wake Forest Baptist Research Team Receives $2 Million Award

October 28, 2016

A research team at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has been awarded a three-year grant for $2 million by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to compare the effectiveness of cognitive-behavior therapy and yoga on anxiety in older adults.

“Anxiety is more common than depression among older adults, yet research on the nature and treatment of anxiety has lagged far behind that on depression,” said Gretchen Brenes, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and the study’s principal investigator,. “Both cognitive-behavior therapy and yoga have been found to reduce anxiety, but no studies to date have compared these two treatments.”

In the three-year project the Wake Forest Baptist researchers will enlist 500 men and women age 60 and over with moderate to severe anxiety issues. These participants will be divided equally into two groups, with those in one being randomly assigned to one of the two therapies and those in the other choosing their course of treatment.

The cognitive-behavior therapy, or CBT, will consist of 10 individualized weekly sessions focusing on techniques for managing worry and anxiety. The yoga therapy will involve 20 biweekly classes featuring meditation, relaxation, breathing exercises and gentle postures.

 “The primary aim of the study is to measure the relative effectiveness of CBT and yoga on worry, anxiety and sleep problems in this population,” Brenes said. “But we also aim to determine participant preference for CBT versus yoga and to see whether preference and selection influence outcomes.

“The results should help give providers and older adults additional, solid treatment options for anxiety.”

The Wake Forest Baptist study was among the 35 comparative clinical research studies and related projects recently approved by PCORI’s Board of Governors for funding totaling $152.8 million. The projects approved for funding were selected through a competitive review process in which patients, caregivers and other stakeholders joined scientists in evaluating proposals on the basis of their scientific merit, their methodological rigor, how well they engage patients and other criteria.

PCORI is an independent nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that can provide patients, caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions.

Media Relations

Marguerite Beck: marbeck@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-2415