Examining Clinical Treatment Patterns in Adults Diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)



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Social Anxiety Disorder is a chronic mental health disorder experienced by 7.1% of U.S. adults in 2017. SAD is characterized by an intense and persistent fear of being scrutinized or negatively judged by others, resulting in distressful endurance or avoidance of social situations. Symptomatology includes cognitive, behavioral, and physiological aspects that make SAD difficult to treat without healthcare provider intervention. Clinically supported evidence-based first-line treatments include psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, or a combination of both. The best psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, includes psychoeducation, exposure, and cognitive restructuring. For those preferring medication or with limited access to clinical therapists, the best pharmacotherapy treatments are SSRIs and SNRIs. Those experiencing SAD are diagnosed by their primary care physician (PCP) or mental health providers. However, research has shown SAD patients visit their PCP less and may feel uncomfortable describing symptoms. Likewise, PCPs may misdiagnose, mistreat, or inadequately treat the disorder (i.e., overreliance on medication). In this analysis, access to evidence-based care for patients experiencing SAD was examined in adults who have insurance coverage for clinical visits and prescriptions after their diagnosis. In other words, are diagnosed adult SAD patients who have insurance coverage for first-line evidence-based treatments receiving the care they need? To evaluate, a Humana insurance claims-based dataset from 2014 to 2016 was filtered to meet the patient criteria. A chronological visualization shows patterns in types of medication prescribed and therapist visit frequency. The typical definition of healthcare access could be revised to include the accuracy of clinician orders.