General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7)

Use the General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) assessment tool in measuring anxiety among clients.

By Emma Hainsworth on Jun 03, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is generalized anxiety disorder?

General anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common mental health condition characterized by excessive and persistent worry about various aspects of life. Unlike specific phobias or panic disorders, GAD involves chronic and uncontrollable worry that is often disproportionate to the actual circumstances.

Most common anxiety disorders involve a range of physical and psychological symptoms, including restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.

In GAD, the worry is about several activities or events for more than half the days for at least six months. These symptoms can then significantly impair daily functioning and quality of life. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) notes these criteria (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

GAD is more than just occasional worry or stress; it involves a constant state of apprehension and anxiety that interferes with daily activities and relationships. The constant worry can be accompanied by physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, and muscle tension.

Printable General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) Assessment

Download this General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) Assessment and effectively assess and evaluate the needs of clients experiencing anxiety symptoms.

Assessing generalized anxiety disorder

Assessing generalized anxiety disorder is crucial for providing appropriate treatment and monitoring progress. Here are several methods healthcare professionals can employ:

  • GAD-7 questionnaire: The Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) is a widely used screening tool for identifying and measuring the severity of GAD symptoms (Spitzer et al., 2006).
  • Clinical interviews: Structured diagnostic interviews, such as the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM (SCID) or the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI), can help establish a formal diagnosis of GAD and rule out other anxiety disorders, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Behavioral observations: Observing the patient's behavior, mannerisms, and nonverbal cues during the clinical encounter can provide valuable insights into their anxiety levels and potential triggers. For instance, fidgeting, restlessness, or excessive worry may be indicative of GAD symptoms.
  • Physiological measures: In some cases, healthcare professionals may assess physiological indicators of anxiety, such as elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, or excessive sweating. These measures can provide objective data to support the diagnosis and monitor treatment effectiveness.

What is the General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7)?

The GAD-7 is a self-report questionnaire that consists of seven items designed to measure the frequency of anxiety symptoms over the past two weeks. Each item is scored on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 3 (nearly every day), with higher scores indicating more severe anxiety (Spitzer et al., 2006).

This generalised anxiety disorder assessment is a reliable and valid screening tool widely used in clinical practice and research settings. It has been extensively studied and has demonstrated good psychometric properties, including excellent internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and convergent and divergent validity (Löwe et al., 2008). This proves helpful in identifying probable cases of GAD.

How to use this GAD-7

If you're a mental health professional who wants to use this assessment, here's a step-by-step guide on how to use this resource:

Step 1: Introduce the GAD-7 to the client

Explain that it's a brief questionnaire designed to measure the severity of anxiety symptoms over the past two weeks.

Step 2: Administer the GAD-7

Provide the patient with the seven-item questionnaire and ask them to rate the frequency of each symptom on a scale of 0 (not at all) to 3 (nearly every day) (Spitzer et al., 2006).

Step 3: Score the GAD-7

Add up the scores for all seven items to obtain the total score, which ranges from 0 to 21. Higher scores indicate more severe anxiety symptoms.

Step 4: Use the GAD-7 score to inform clinical decision-making

The score can help determine the need for further assessment, treatment planning, and monitoring of anxiety symptoms. Remember that the GAD-7 is a screening tool and should not be used as the sole basis for diagnosis.

GAD-7 example (sample)

To explain how the assessment works, we have created a filled-out GAD-7 sample to serve as a guide to accomplish it. If this is helpful for your practice, feel free to check out a preview or download a copy by clicking on the link below.

Download this General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) assessment example (sample) here:

GAD-7 example (sample)

Scoring and interpretation

Scoring and interpreting the GAD-7 is straightforward, making it a practical tool for healthcare practitioners to assess the severity of generalized anxiety disorder symptoms.

The GAD-7 consists of seven questions, each scored on a scale from 0 to 3, with 0 representing "not at all" and 3 representing "nearly every day." The total score is calculated by summing up the scores for each question, ranging from 0 to 21.

The total GAD-7 score indicates the severity of anxiety symptoms, with higher scores suggesting more severe anxiety. The recommended interpretation of the scores is as follows (Spitzer et al., 2006):

  • 0-4: Minimal anxiety score
  • 5-9: Mild anxiety score
  • 10-14: Moderate anxiety score
  • 15-21: Severe anxiety score

While there is no universally agreed-upon score cut-off for diagnosing GAD, a score of 10 or higher is often used as a reasonable cut-off for identifying individuals who may have clinically significant anxiety and warrant further evaluation (Löwe et al., 2008). If you need a resource to help you in the scoring phase, check out this GAD-7 Scoring Sheet.

It's crucial to note that the GAD-7 is a screening tool, and a formal diagnosis of GAD should be made based on a comprehensive clinical evaluation.

Why use Carepatron as your GAD-7 software?

Managing the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7) scale with Carepatron offers several compelling benefits for mental health professionals. Here's why Carepatron is a top choice for mental health software.

  • Specialized mental health tools: Carepatron provides tools tailored explicitly for mental health assessments, including the GAD-7. This specialization ensures that the software meets the needs of mental health practitioners conducting anxiety assessments.
  • Integrated clinical documentation: The platform offers robust clinical documentation capabilities, allowing practitioners to record GAD-7 scores and related clinical notes efficiently. Accurate documentation is crucial for tracking patient progress and adjusting treatment plans.
  • Secure electronic health records (EHR): Carepatron's HIPAA-compliant electronic patient records system securely stores and easily accessible all patient data, including GAD-7 scores. This security is essential for maintaining patient confidentiality and efficient record-keeping.
  • Streamlined practice management: Carepatron simplifies administrative tasks such as scheduling, billing, and client communication, allowing mental health professionals to focus more on patient care.
  • Automated appointment reminders: The appointment reminders feature helps ensure patients do not miss their assessments and therapy sessions, improving adherence to treatment schedules.

Ready to experience these features for your practice? Join thousands of modern healthcare practitioners who already trust Carepatron. Sign up for free!

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References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Pearson.

Löwe, B., Decker, O., Müller, S., Brähler, E., Schellberg, D., Herzog, W., & Herzberg, P. Y. (2008). Validation and standardization of the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Screener (GAD-7) in the general population. Medical care, 46(3), 266–274. https://doi.org/10.1097/MLR.0b013e318160d093

Spitzer, R. L., Kroenke, K., Williams, J. B., & Löwe, B. (2006). A brief measure for assessing generalized anxiety disorder: the GAD-7. Archives of internal medicine, 166(10), 1092–1097. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.166.10.1092

What is the GAD-7 test for?
What is the GAD-7 test for?

Commonly asked questions

What is the GAD-7 test for?

The Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) is a self-reported questionnaire used for screening and measuring the severity of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It consists of seven items that assess the frequency of various anxiety symptoms over the past two weeks, providing a score that indicates the level of anxiety.

How to diagnose GAD?

To diagnose generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), healthcare professionals typically conduct a comprehensive clinical assessment, including a detailed history, physical examination, and mental status evaluation. They may also use screening tools like the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) to help identify the presence and severity of anxiety symptoms. However, the GAD-7 alone is not sufficient for making a diagnosis, and additional evaluation is necessary to confirm GAD and rule out other conditions.

What are GAD-7 and PHQ-9 screening tools?

The Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) are brief, self-reported questionnaires used as primary care and outpatient screening tools. The GAD-7 screens for generalized anxiety disorder, while the PHQ-9 screens for depressive symptoms. Both measures assess the frequency and severity of symptoms over the past two weeks, providing scores that guide further evaluation and treatment planning.

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