Cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), yielding significant improvements in approximately 50% of patients. There is significant room for improvement in the outcomes of treatment, especially in recovery.
We aimed to compare metacognitive therapy (MCT) with the gold standard treatment, CBT, in patients with GAD (clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00426426).
A total of 246 patients with long-term GAD were assessed and 81 were randomised into three conditions: CBT (n = 28), MCT (n = 32) and a wait-list control (n = 21). Assessments were made at pre-treatment, post-treatment and at 2 year follow-up.
Both CBT and MCT were effective treatments, but MCT was more effective (mean difference 9.762, 95% CI 2.679–16.845, P = 0.004) and led to significantly higher recovery rates (65% v. 38%). These differences were maintained at 2 year follow-up.
MCT seems to produce recovery rates that exceed those of CBT. These results demonstrate that the effects of treatment cannot be attributed to non-specific therapy factors.
Declaration of interest
A.W. wrote the treatment protocol in MCT and several books on CBT and MCT, and receives royalties from these. T.D.B. wrote the protocol in CBT and has published several articles and chapters on CBT and receives royalties from these. All other authors declare no competing interests.