A randomized controlled trial of the Cool Teens CD-ROM computerized program for adolescent anxiety

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012 Mar;51(3):261-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2011.12.002. Epub 2012 Jan 21.


Objective: Computerized cognitive behavioral interventions for anxiety disorders in adults have been shown to be efficacious, but limited data are available on the use of computerized interventions with young persons. Adolescents in particular are difficult to engage in treatment and may be especially suited to computerized technologies. This paper describes the results of a small randomized controlled trial of the Cool Teens program for adolescent anxiety, and examines potential barriers to treatment and user preferences of computerized technology in this population.

Method: Forty-three adolescents with a primary diagnosis of anxiety were randomly allocated to the Cool Teens program, a 12-week computerized cognitive-behavioral therapy program for anxiety management, or a 12-week wait list. Effects on symptoms, negative thoughts, and life interference were assessed at post-treatment and 3-month follow-up, based on diagnosis as well as self and maternal report.

Results: Using mixed-model analyses, at post-treatment and follow-up assessments, adolescents in the Cool Teens condition, compared with those on the wait list, were found to have significant reductions in the total number of anxiety disorders, the severity of the primary anxiety disorder, and the average severity for all disorders. These results were matched by significant reductions in mother and child questionnaire reports of anxiety, internalizing symptoms, automatic thoughts, and life interference. Further few barriers to treatment were found, and user preferences indicated that the computerized treatment was well suited to adolescents with anxiety.

Conclusions: The Cool Teens program is efficacious for treatment of adolescent anxiety. Clinical trial registration information-A randomized controlled trial of the Cool Teens computerized program for anxious adolescents compared with waist list; http://www.anzctr.org.au; ACTRN12611000508976.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Computing Methodologies
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Patient Preference / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome