Aims: To study the impact of a treatment programme for flight anxiety on other anxiety symptoms, and to assess the impact of previous nervous problems and previous contact with a psychiatrist/psychologist on the degree of anxiety.
Methods: The study followed a prospective longitudinal quasi-experimental design. There were 295 women and 128 men included in the study. The subjects for this cognitive behavioural treatment programme for flight anxiety were recruited by an advertisement in the newspaper Aftenposten. The treatment programme was run once a week for six weeks. Each session lasted 4 hours. The participants paid 3-5000 NOK to attend the programme. Assessments were performed before treatment, after treatment, and at follow-up studies after six months and two years. A 19 items 10 cm VAS scale was used as a Flight Anxiety Scale (FAS), six items for other anxiety situations, and the Phobic Avoidance Rating Scale (PARS).
Results: Both women (5.0 vs. 2.1) and men (4.1 vs. 1.7) had a reduction in their mean scores for fear of flying, measured by the FAS. Both genders also showed a reduction of the mean scores for the degree of other phobias (women 2.5 vs. 1.5 and men (1.9 vs. 1.2). Women also had a significantly lower PARS score after treatment (0.5 vs. 0.4) whereas the decrease among men (0.4 vs. 0.3) was not statistically significant. The improvement was rather stable at follow-ups after six months and two years, although women had slightly more flight anxiety after two years.
Those who report to have other nervous problems have significantly different scores compared with those without. They are more afraid when it comes to both fear of flying, other phobias and the PARS. When we compared the change of the scores (∆-values), for flight anxiety (FAS) there was no significant difference between those who have other nervous problems and those who do not. However, when it comes to Other phobias and PARS, the results showed a statistically significant difference in the reduction of the scores between those who have other nervous problems and those who do not, those with other nervous problems have a greater reduction of the scores. There was no statistical difference in the scores for flight anxiety (FAS) between those who previously had been to a psychologist/psychiatrist and those who had not. For other phobias and PARS is there a difference, those who have been to a psychologist/psychiatrist had significantly higher scores both before and after treatment.
Conclusion: Even though the treatment was specifically focused on the treatment of flight anxiety, a significant effect on other anxiety symptoms was also achieved.