Geriatric Anxiety Inventory (GAI)

Construct: Dimensional anxiety in older adults

Description of Measure: Many of the previously available measures of adult anxiety were not validated with older populations; those that had were inadequate in certain contexts. To remedy this, Pachana et al. (2007) created a reliable, valid and easy-to-use instrument for anxiety that is specifically targeted at older adults. The Geriatric Anxiety Inventory (GAI) consists of 20 “Agree/Disagree” items designed to assess typical common anxiety symptoms. The measurements of somatic symptoms with the instrument are limited in order to minimize confusion between symptoms common to anxiety and general medical conditions.

Anxious womanPachana et al.’s (2007) initial analysis of the GAI, using a large group of community-dwelling older adults, yielded Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of .91. Scores on the GAI were found to be significantly correlated with a number of other popular anxiety measures. They also tested the GAI on a smaller sample (n = 46) of older adults receiving psychiatric services. These results showed that GAI scores were not significantly correlated with age, gender, or cognitive function. In this sample, the GAI was also shown to have high test-retest reliability (rp = .91) and inter-rater reliability (rp = .99).

Another study by Rozzini et al. (2009) was done with a sample of 57 older adults with mild cognitive impairment, using the Italian version of the GAI. This study again showed the GAI to have high internal consistency (α = .76), as well as high inter-rater (r = .89) and test-retest (r = .86) reliability. A receiver operating characteristic analysis showed that the GAI could be fairly sensitive for distinguishing between those older adults who did and did not have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

It should be noted that the GAI is not designed strictly as a diagnostic tool, but rather to assess anxiety symptoms in general. It is available in a variety of languages, including multiple dialects of English, French, Spanish, and German. It should be noted that to date, reliability and validity analyses have focused on predominantly white, ethnically homogenous populations.

The GAI is available to clinicians and those in academia free of charge, through the GAI website.

References

Pachana, N., Byrne, G., Siddle, H., Koloski, N., Harley, E., & Arnold, E. (2007). Development and validation of the Geriatric Anxiety Inventory. International Psychogeriatrics, 19, 103-114. doi: 10.1017/S1041610206003504.

Rozzini, L., Chilovi, B., Peli, M., Conti, M., Rozzini, R., Trabucchi, M., Padovani, A. (2009). Anxiety symptoms in mild cognitive impairment. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 24, 300-305. doi: 10.1002/gps.2106.