Slashdot is all abuzz about an article submission where a bunch of researchers from Hebrew University in Israel are claiming they have created a simple blood test that can test for “anxiety” within a few hours. I read the article twice and am amazed by a few simple observations:

1. Typically professionals read something like this and look for a journal reference, showing that the researchers took the time to scientifically validate their work. Perhaps it was just shoddy reporting of the “IsraCast” website where this “exclusive” interview was conducted, but no mention of any peer-reviewed research results were noted in the article. Without peer-review, nobody can comment on the quality (or ultimate meaning) of the research being presented.

2. The article makes the following claims:

The problem was that until now the only way to diagnose anxiety disorders was through an examination by a trained psychiatrist. Many people who are reluctant to undergo this examination are left untreated and can continue to suffer for many years.

In fact, a wide range of mental health professionals — including clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and psychologists — can all readily make a fairly accurate diagnosis of an anxiety disorder within about an hour. If someone is “reluctant” to undergo such an existing, established method for making a diagnosis, what makes anyone think that taking a few vials of blood is going to be less anxiety-provoking to the average anxiety-ridden individual? I’m not sure I follow the reasoning here.

3. As the article notes:

Her team found more than a 90% correlation between people who were diagnosed with higher than usual anxiety by a psychologist and people with abnormal AChE, BChE and PON levels.

This shows the high validity of existing diagnostic methods, which is handy to know, because the article then notes:

According to Soreq the blood test will be inexpensive, accurate and will take only a few hours to receive the results.

Inexpensive? I’m not sure, but last time I checked anytime you brought in someone to take blood (which in many cases, at least in the U.S., cannot even be done in the doctor’s office but is often relegated to a lab attached to a hospital some place else), have a lab process it (I’ve never heard of a hospital laboratory processing a sample quickly unless it was a life-threatening emergency), and then have a doctor read and interpret the results, you’re looking at a lot more money than it currently costs to do a simple diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. Quick? It currently takes about an hour (sometimes 90 minutes) to do an accurate diagnosis. You can’t beat that with a lab test.

Currently an accurate diagnosis of an anxiety disorder takes less than 90 minutes and can be done for anywhere before $75-150 (assuming your insurance didn’t cover it, but in most cases, it would).

So after reading through this article, it appears this new blood test is:

1. Not something scientifically-accepted yet.
2. Is not less expensive.
3. Is not more accurate.
4. Does not take less time.
5. Involves more professionals, a needle and blood draw, and likely more inconvenience for the client/patient in most circumstances.

I don’t see the benefits, sorry.

 


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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Oct 2005
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2005). Blood Test for Anxiety? Does this help anyone?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2005/10/10/blood-test-for-anxiety-does-this-help-anyone/

 

Anxiety
& Panic


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