Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Department

Nursing

Thesis Committee Chairperson

Diane Ryan, PhD, AGPCNP-BC, FNP-BC, PHS-BC, CNE

Second Reader

Constance Almeter, RN, BSN, MS

Abstract

Purpose and Significance: This research study focused on the topic of anxiety management in older adults. Previous research has noted the prevalence of anxiety in the older adult population. It has also established previous success with nonpharmacological treatment in decreasing anxiety levels. The purpose of the study was to determine the amount of knowledge possessed by older adults about different anxiety treatment methods. The significance of the study was to determine whether older adults are being educated properly on how to effectively employ nonpharmacological techniques to manage anxiety.

Theoretical Framework: Imogene King’s conceptual system, including the personal, interpersonal, and social systems, provided the foundation for this research study (Husband, 1988). In assessing the knowledge and effectiveness of specific anxiety treatments, health care providers can ensure that anxiety is managed adequately and safely encompassing all three systems emphasized by King.

Method: This study was a quantitative research study that incorporated a simple descriptive research design. Data was collected using a 28-question tool accessed through the Survey Monkey website. The survey was prefaced with a cover letter explaining inclusion criteria that included: informed consent, an age of 55 years or older with recognizable feelings of anxiety at least once a month for the last year. Data collection was voluntary and anonymous. Data was analyzed using SAS Version 9.4 software. Measures of central tendencies, relative frequencies and the chi-square test were utilized in analysis.

Findings: Fifty-nine surveys were completed and used for data analysis. The sample was composed of 59% females, 37% male, and 4% who preferred not to identify with a specific gender. The mean age range of participants was 60-64. Of the five treatments surveyed, 93.2% of participants report using distraction techniques to treat anxiety. However, therapy is used least often, with only 30.5% of participants who report using this treatment method. Although distraction was the most commonly used treatment, as needed anxiety medication was the treatment that was found to be the most effective, with 47.4% reporting effective anxiety reduction with this treatment. Exercise was found to be the next most effective anxiety treatment, with 41.5% reporting that it is moderately or very effective. Knowledge of therapy and as needed medication were reported the highest while less than half of the participants reported knowledge of exercise to treat anxiety. Using the chi-square test it was noted that despite anxiety level, as needed medications were reported the most effective treatment. However, those with minimal or mild anxiety also reported a high effectiveness level with exercise (63%) and therapy (66.7%) as well.

Conclusion: The results of this study provide insight in the most effective ways to treat anxiety in the older adult population. Supported by prior research, results indicate exercise is the most effective nonpharmacological treatment. The results of this study can be translated to patient teaching through emphasis on exercise, discussion, and distraction as first line nonpharmacological treatments for minimal to mild anxiety levels.

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Nursing Commons

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