Universal Prevention of Anxiety and Depression in a Recreational Camp Setting: An Initial Open Trial

Child Youth Care Forum. 2011 Dec;40(6):435-455. doi: 10.1007/s10566-011-9148-4.


BACKGROUND: Anxiety and depressive disorders may pose a long-term, deleterious impact on youth, prompting a need for early and effective prevention of such concerns. A growing body of research has examined universal prevention programs targeting these emotional disorders in childhood. While most universal prevention programs are offered within the school setting, there is also a rationale for developing and investigating prevention programs within novel settings, including a recreational context. OBJECTIVE: This initial investigation utilized the Emotion Detectives Prevention Program (EDPP), a universal prevention protocol focusing on anxiety and depression symptoms within a recreational summer camp. The aims of this pilot study were to assess the EDPP's feasibility and participant satisfaction following its initial administration in a camp setting. METHOD: Forty children (ages 7-10 years, 70.7% male) were recruited from an existent recreational sports camp and participated in a non-randomized, open trial of the EDPP. The EDPP, a 15-session program, presents cognitive-behavioral strategies in a manner that emphasizes strategy applicability across a range of emotional experiences. RESULTS: Participating children reported a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms at post-prevention. No significant change in depression symptoms or other emotion regulation indices were reported. Moderate to high participant satisfaction was indicated. CONCLUSIONS: The EDPP appears to be a feasible program for the prevention of child-reported anxiety symptoms in a camp setting. Given the novelty of the prevention context, issues inherent in the conduct of research in a recreational camp setting and future directions for research in this setting are discussed.