Should we be anxious when assessing anxiety using the Beck Anxiety Inventory in clinical insomnia patients?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Assessing for clinical levels of anxiety is crucial, as comorbid insomnias far outnumber primary insomnias (PI). Such assessment is complex since those with Anxiety Disorders (AD) and those with PI have overlapping symptoms. Because of this overlap, we need studies that examine the assessment of anxiety in clinical insomnia groups. Participants (N = 207) were classified as having insomnia: 1) without an anxiety disorder (I-ND), or 2) with an anxiety disorder (I-AD). Mean Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) item responses were compared using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and follow-up ANOVAs. As a validity check, a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was conducted to determine if the BAI suggested clinical cutoff was valid for identifying clinical levels of anxiety in this comorbid patient group. The I-ND had lower mean BAI scores than I-AD. There were significant group differences on 12 BAI items. The ROC curve analysis revealed the suggested BAI cutoff (≥16) had 55% sensitivity and 78% specificity. Although anxiety scores were highest in those with insomnia and an anxiety disorder, those with insomnia only had scores in the mild range for anxiety. Nine items did not distinguish between those insomnia sufferers with and without an anxiety disorder. Additionally, published cutoffs for the BAI were not optimal for identifying anxiety disorders in those with insomnia. Such limitations must be considered before using this measure in insomnia patient groups. In addition, the poor specificity and high number of overlapping symptoms between insomnia and anxiety highlight the diagnostic challenges facing clinicians.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Carney, CE; Moss, TG; Harris, AL; Edinger, JD; Krystal, AD

Published Date

  • September 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 45 / 9

Start / End Page

  • 1243 - 1249

PubMed ID

  • 21482427

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3157494

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-1379

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.03.011


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England