Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 12, Iss. 4, October, 2008, pp. 409-424
@2008 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Explaining Health Care Utilization For Panic Attacks Using Cusp Catastrophe Modeling

David Katerndahl, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Abstract: Despite increased health care utilization, patients with panic disorder continue to report unmet needs. The objective was to compare the fit of linear and Cusp Catastrophe Modeling in explaining changes in utilization of emergency, general and mental health settings, and self-treatments for panic symptoms. This community-based study surveyed 97 subjects with panic attacks drawn from a sample of randomly-selected adults from randomly-selected households. The stressor (splitting) variable used was Phobic Anxiety while predisposing variables included Family Health Care Utilization, Perceived Life Threat and Need For Treatment, and Treatment Experience. Outcomes consisted of the number of sites and self-treatments used for panic symptoms when first seeking care and during the 2 months prior to survey. Use of mental health sites and self-treatments demonstrated superior modeling with cusp catastrophe approaches using treatment experience as the predisposing variable, accounting for 47% and 38% of variances respectively, improving the fit by over 20% compared to the best linear models in both cases. Cusp catastrophe modeling accounted for more variance than all linear models when describing use of mental health settings and self-treatments. Cusp catastrophe may explain bimodal distributions in behavior, delays in behavior change, and sudden shifts in behavior in stressful situations.

Keywords: nonlinear dynamics, mathematical models, health services, panic disorders, anxiety, cusp catastrophe