Aims: To study the effect of a treatment program for flight anxiety, and to assess different factors of flight anxiety.
Methods: A cognitive/behavioural treatment program for flight phobia has been conducted by the airline SAS Braathens (previously Braathens) since 1983 followed by four or five yearly groups with 12 participants. The results from the 61 first groups are presented. Assessments have been made before and after treatment and with follow-ups at six months and two years. There were 746 participants, 502 women (mean age 40.3 years) and 244 men (mean age 39.2 years). A 19 items questionnaire was used to measure flight anxiety on a VAS scale (0-10 cm). A principal component analysis with varimax rotation showed a two factor structure, with 15 items measuring technical concerns and four items control/claustrophobia.
Results: A statistically significant reduction in both technical and claustrophobic anxiety was shown for both women and men with reductions of flight anxiety of 54-59% (p < 0.001). The technical (21%) and claustrophobic (17%) anxiety increased statistically significantly for women at two years follow-up (p < 0.001). The number of flights undertaken after treatment was substantially increased for both sexes. There were 6% of the women and 4% of the men who did not fly at follow-up. The tendency shoves that the younger the participants were, the more afraid of flying they seem to be. It was the youngest who also had an increase in flight anxiety during the follow-up period. Those who had other nervous problems, had less advantage of the treatment program, compared to the other participants.
Conclusion: The treatment program had a significant effect on the flight anxiety, with the same degree of improvement for technical and claustrophobic anxiety. The treatment effect was stable for men, but decreased somewhat for women.