Parents' perceptions of pharmacological and cognitive-behavioral treatments for childhood anxiety disorders

Behav Res Ther. 2007 Apr;45(4):819-28. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2006.04.010. Epub 2006 Jun 19.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacotherapy are the most well-established treatments for childhood anxiety disorders. This study examined how parents (N=71) seeking treatment for their child's anxiety disorder perceive the acceptability, believability, and effectiveness of these treatments. While both treatments were perceived favorably, CBT was rated as more acceptable, believable, and effective in the short- and long-term. Children's treatment history influenced parents' perceptions of pharmacotherapy, with parents of children with no treatment history perceiving medication treatment as less acceptable and believable than parents of children with a history of medication alone or in combination with behavior therapy. No effect of treatment history was found for perceptions of CBT. Significant positive correlations emerged between parents' perceived acceptance and believability for pharmacotherapy and child age and level of dysfunction due to their child's anxiety, respectively. The level of the child's anxiety was not significantly correlated with parents' perceptions of either CBT or pharmacotherapy. Our results suggest that parents of anxious children prefer CBT to medication for the treatment of their child's anxiety disorder. Directions for future research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Psychometrics


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents