Effectiveness of a cognitive behavioural therapy-based anxiety prevention programme at an elementary school in Japan: a quasi-experimental study

Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2018 Jun 19;12:33. doi: 10.1186/s13034-018-0240-5. eCollection 2018.


Background: The efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for anxiety related problems in children is empirically supported. In addition, universal anxiety prevention programmes based on CBT have been demonstrated in recent years. The purpose of this study was to verify the effectiveness of a CBT based original programme 'Journey of the Brave,' aiming to prevent anxiety disorders and anxiety-related problems for Japanese children aged 10-12 years old.

Methods: Intervention groups from two classes of 5th grade elementary students (n = 41) received ten 45-min programme sessions. The control group was drawn from one class of 5th grade children (n = 31) from a nearby school. All participants completed the Spence Children's Anxiety Scale (SCAS) at pre, post, and 3 months follow-up. Mixed-effects model for repeated measures analysis was conducted.

Results: The mean anxiety score on the SCAS for the intervention group was significantly reduced at both post intervention and 3 months follow-up compared with the control group. The group differences on the SCAS from baseline to post-test were - 5.321 (95% CI - 10.12 to - 0.523, p = 0.030), and at the 3-month follow-up were - 7.104 (95% CI - 11.90 to - 2.306, p = 0.004).

Conclusions: The effectiveness of the anxiety prevention programme 'Journey of the Brave' was verified though this study using a quasi-experimental design on a small sample.Trial registration: UMIN000009021.

Keywords: Anxiety; Cognitive behavioural therapy; Elementary school; Japan; Prevention; Universal.