Objective: To compare the effectiveness of three school-based interventions for anxious children: group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for children, group CBT for children plus parent training group, and no-treatment control.
Method: Students (7-11 years old) in three elementary schools (N = 453) were screened using the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children and teacher nomination. Subsequently, 101 identified children and their parents completed the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for DSM-IV, Child Version. Children with features or DSM-IV diagnoses of separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and/or social phobia (n = 61) were randomized by school to one of three conditions. Active treatments were nine weekly sessions of either group CBT or group CBT plus concurrent parent training.
Results: Clinician-report, child-report, and parent-report measures of child anxiety demonstrated significant benefits of CBT treatments over the no-treatment control group. Effect size was 0.58 for change in composite clinician severity rating, the primary outcome measure, favoring collapsed CBT conditions compared with control. In addition, several instruments showed significantly greater improvement in child anxiety for group CBT plus parent training over group CBT alone.
Conclusions: Both active CBT treatments were more effective than the no-treatment control condition in decreasing child anxiety symptoms and associated impairment. When parent training was combined with child group CBT, there were some additional benefits for the children.