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The University of Southampton
Centre for Clinical and Experimental Psychopharmacology GAD Research

Inflammatory markers

A study of how anxiety affects inflammatory status and cognitive processing

What is the aim of the research?

The purpose of this study is to examine whether there is an association between inflammatory responses, anxious state and cognitive function in patients with generalized anxiety disorder in comparison to healthy individuals, and how these associations change over time. The findings from this study will help us to identify inflammatory processes associated with behavioural changes in patients with generalized anxiety disorder, with the goal of identifying potential treatments.

Can I take part in the research?

You can apply to take part in the research if you are aged between 18 and 65 years, have been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, which include two major symptoms (excessive anxiety and worry about a number of events and activities, and difficulty controlling the worry) and three or more additional symptoms from the following: restlessness, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and disturbed sleep. Symptoms should be present for at least 6 months and should cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. If you fit this criteria, and would like to find out more, please complete the form below and we will contact you regarding eligibility.

What will I have to do if I am eligible?

If you agree to take part, you will be invited to come to our research laboratory based at the Community Mental Health Team in Southern Health NHS Trust in College Keep, Southampton. Taking part in this study involves one initial assessment and one follow-up assessment. .

During the initial assessment a 10 ml blood sample, which is the amount that is normally taken, will be taken from you to measure the concentration of certain types of inflammatory mediators. You will then be instructed to complete three computer tasks followed by a questionnaire booklet. The computer task will take about 30 minutes and involve you briefly seeing a series of paired pictures and pressing the buttons. The 30 minutes questionnaire booklet will ask you about aspects of your symptoms and how they have affected your life. The same assessment will be repeated at 2 months later.

A weekly checklist diary will be used to record the occurrence of any infection, such as dental infection, fever, or injury between two assessments. In the case of an infection, you will need to contact our research team and you will be reassessed within 3 days and an additional blood sample will be taken for analysis.

The data we collect from you will be kept anonymous and strictly confidential - they will not be kept in your medical notes, and will not affect the care you receive in any way. At the end of the project we will prepare a brief summary of the findings. This will be available if you would like to read it.

Will there be any risk to me as a participant?

Some discomfort may occur when the needle is placed in the vein and the blood is drawn and there is the possibility that a bruise may develop. Light-headedness and fainting may also result from blood sampling. The other disadvantage in taking part is the time and effort it will take.

How do I get more information? (contact details)

f you are interested in taking part in this study, please complete the contact form below and you will be contacted by someone from our research team. If you are not sure whether you are eligible for the study, but still want to take part, have a look at our ‘diagnostic criteria’ page. If you are still not sure, let us know through the contact form and we will contact you to confirm. Please contact Dr Ruihua Hou, University Department of Psychiatry, Academic Centre, College Keep, 4-12 Terminus Terrace, Southampton SO14 3DT Tel: 02380718537 Email:

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