ATLANTA, Dec. 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Prior to COVID-19, research showed more than 1 in 4 American adults will experience at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime, costing the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $42.3 to $46.6 billion annually1. Meanwhile, in 2020, anxiety, stress, and worry increased by nearly three-fold in the U.S.2, leading to a significant increase in demand for treatments, in particular telehealth and digital therapeutics due to limitations on in-office appointments.
According to new research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), Unwinding Anxiety, an evidence-based digital therapeutic from Sharecare (Nasdaq: SHCR), decreased anxiety in participants by 67% after two months of use. The randomized controlled trial was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and led by renowned neuroscientist and addiction psychiatrist Dr. Jud Brewer, an associate professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences in the Brown University School of Public Health, and his team of researchers.
"In this study, we found that mindfulness training led to a decrease in worry, which in turn led to a decrease in anxiety. By training people to become more aware of and work with their worry habit loops, we have seen a clinically meaningful reduction in anxiety," said Dr. Brewer, who also serves as Sharecare's executive medical director of behavioral health.
Developed by Dr. Brewer, Unwinding Anxiety uses science-based mindfulness training to target reinforcement learning mechanisms, helping individuals identify habitual worry thinking patterns and teaching them to step out of the worry cycle. Unlike cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) based approaches which can break down while under stress, Unwinding Anxiety helps individuals tap into the brain's reward-based learning pathways using clinically validated mindful awareness techniques, enabling them to reduce the relative reward of anxious thoughts and behaviors, potentially leading to more lasting change.
Additionally, the study helps demonstrate the potential of digital therapeutics to improve mental health, both in terms of efficacy and access. Roughly one in five individuals will specifically benefit from routinely prescribed medications for anxiety, often clinically referred to as the number needed treat (NNT), which for such medications is 5.23. In this study, Dr. Brewer's team found that NNT reduced to 1.6 with the Unwinding Anxiety program. Given the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the U.S. and short fall of mental health providers, this research suggests that digital therapeutics may provide a new wave of treatment with much greater success.
Participants in the study4 were randomized during an in-person visit where half were assigned to continue with their current treatment plans and the other half added the Unwinding Anxiety app. At two months, the control group saw a 14% reduction in anxiety compared to a 67% reduction seen in the group assigned to use Unwinding Anxiety.
Available for download on the App Store and Google Play, Unwinding Anxiety is one of several digital therapeutics available from Sharecare that leverage clinically proven mindfulness-based strategies to help people overcome behavioral health issues, including emotional eating, smoking and vaping, and anxiety. To learn more about these unique offerings from Sharecare, visit https://www.sharecare.com/digital-therapeutics.
About Sharecare Sharecare is the leading digital health company that helps people – no matter where they are in their health journey – unify and manage all their health in one place. Our comprehensive and data-driven virtual health platform is designed to help people, providers, employers, health plans, government organizations, and communities optimize individual and population-wide well-being by driving positive behavior change. Driven by our philosophy that we are all together better, at Sharecare, we are committed to supporting each individual through the lens of their personal health and making high-quality care more accessible and affordable for everyone. To learn more, visit www.sharecare.com.
1 Am J Manag Care. 2005;11:S344- S353 2 Measured by Sharecare's Community Well-Being Index 3 Antidepressants versus placebo for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD012942. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012942. 4 Study participants were required to have a score of ten or greater on the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7) scale, which suggests a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).