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Anxiety UK, has released a report into medical gaslighting and diagnostic overshadowing experienced by those living with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).

The report is calling for a range of initiatives to be considered including more time to talk to their Health care professionals (HCPs), more face-to-face appointments for those living with GAD and a record of their condition to share with other HCPs.

The results also highlighted that there is a desire from both GPs and people with GAD themselves to receive increased and more effective support, through initiatives such as additional resources, tools, and training to help address barriers to receiving quality care.

Anxiety UK is therefore recommending that guidelines should be developed for clinicians to improve the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of non-GAD conditions in people with GAD.

Resources and support for people with GAD seeking care for non-GAD conditions in primary care settings should also be developed to reduce the likelihood of being affected by medical gaslighting and/or diagnostic overshadowing. This could include, for example, production of a conversational tool for people with GAD to use when consulting with HCPs, including their GP.

Training and awareness initiatives should similarly be developed to address bias and diagnostic overshadowing in people with GAD, especially targeting male GPs and those with more than 25 years’ experience.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

  1. Medical gaslighting and diagnostic overshadowing are phenomena experienced by those with GAD (supporting anecdotal reports made previously to Anxiety UK)
    · 44% (n=105) of those with GAD (n= 237) reported that they have or may have experienced problems getting professional medical help for a physical health condition or disease because of their GAD.
    · Additionally, 1 in 5 of this group (20%) reported experiencing what would be considered diagnostic overshadowing with 23% citing their symptoms of a physical condition were mistaken for their GAD.
  2. 70% of GPs believe that bias (including unconscious bias) often, very often, or always makes it more challenging for people with GAD to receive a diagnosis and/or access to care for their non-GAD conditions.
  3. Both those with GAD and GPs believe action needs to be taken to improve health outcomes for those with GAD experiencing non-GAD conditions.

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